Our family is weary. We've been fighting for Luke for nearly a year, and the journey has taken a toll. The cancer is stubborn. The treatments keep coming, the road map keeps changing, the "end" is nowhere in sight. Nerves are frayed, tears are flowing freely, discouragement creeps in. It's easy to lose heart. We are very, very weary.
Hebrews 12:3 says, "Consider Him who has endured such trials by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart." In the midst of our exhaustion, we have been consistently reminded that Jesus is the One who sustains. Your prayers, your generosity, and your encouragement have been tangible reminders that we are not alone in our weariness. Thank you for helping remind us to consider Jesus. Because Jesus is our hope, because He overcame death, we must not lose heart.
Here are some specific ways to pray:
1) One of the reasons Luke is weary is because he is receiving new chemo drugs to address the tumor on his sacrum. His body is not used to these medicines, and his Docs haven't yet figured out how best to help him navigate the side effects. Pray for a quick adjustment, and for Luke's body and his blood counts to stay strong so he can receive treatment he needs in a timely manner.
2) We are thankful that Luke's new regimen involves very few blood draws from his arms (he hates those!) and very infrequent overnight stays at DeVos (he hates those too!). He goes to clinic every Thursday, they evaluate his blood via his port, and then after fluids and chemo he is able to come home. This rhythm is much more palatable for Luke and easier on our family.
3) Luke's Docs want to do radiation on the one concerning area on his sacrum, some time in the late summer. Pray for wisdom on the timing, and that it completely destroys any trace of cancer!
4) Pray for the cancer to continue to dissipate and disappear from Luke's chest, liver, and butt muscle. The trajectory in all those area has been a huge answer to prayer.
5) Pray for rest and peace for Luke, Laura, and me. We need God's supernatural comfort and grace to make it through this season.
Our needs remain the same. Visit with Luke. Send gift cards. Come take a walk with Laura. The meals are a huge blessing. And, of course, please keep praying. Luke needs the healing hand of God to scrub the cancer from his body. Your prayers mean so much.
Our prayer remains the same: God heal our boy. We can't stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu,
(for Sam, Jay, & Luke)
So many of you have asked about Luke's scans...we are very grateful for your prayers and concerns. We met with Luke's team this afternoon. The short answer is that the report was great and not so great, both at the same time. Luke's Doctor is extremely pleased by the progress with the tumors in his lungs. The radiation had a huge impact, and the progress in eradicating the cancer from his chest cavity is very encouraging. That's great news, and an answer to a LOT of prayer.
The not so great piece is that one of the other areas where Luke had a tumor has flared up again. On his original scans (way back in August) he had a visible tumor on his sacrum bone (lower back), but by February it was almost invisible on the scans. The scan from Monday shows that it has returned as active cancer. It's not big (about the size of a peanut M&M), but it's a concern because it represents the wrong trajectory. We want all of the cancer to regress, like is happening in Luke's lungs. This tumor is progressing, even in the midst of treatment.
What does this mean? Luke's Doc has always been planning on doing radiation in his lower back, probably in the Fall. They will probably move that timetable earlier, possibly late summer, so they can address the tumor specifically and directly. In addition, today they added two different chemo drugs to his treatment, with the hope that the tumor in his sacrum will be killed off. We are adjusting to this new plan and new timeline.
How can you pray?
1) We are SO thankful for healing in Luke's lungs. The cancer is going away. Continue to pray for the next scan to show ZERO residual tumors, ZERO evidence of cancer there.
2) We are SO thankful that two other tumors from Luke's previous scans (one on his liver and one in his butt muscle) are now undetectable on the scan from Monday. No flare ups!
3) We are SO thankful that Luke's leg is healthy. Amputees often have ongoing complications (skin rashes, infection, soreness, etc.) but so far Luke has avoided those. In addition, there is no cancer to be found anywhere in Luke's leg, which means the surgery served it's purpose. Pray for continued progress for Luke with his prosthetic!
4) The scan only showed one "live" cancerous spot, but just that one spot represents a concern. Pray for God to clean the cancer out of Luke's sacrum bone. They won't scan Luke again until the end of summer, so my daily prayer between now and then will be complete healing, no more cancer in the sacrum or anywhere else.
5) This stuff is SO emotionally challenging for Luke, Laura, and me. Pray for peace, and for perseverance. Luke has so many dreams, and this process can be so discouraging. Pray for his courage, and his attitude. Your continued prayers mean so much.
In some ways this was a hard day, but God is big. In Psalm 18:6 it says "In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears." God's ears hear our cry, and He will fight for our boy. Our prayer remains simple: God heal our boy. We can't stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay, & Luke)
In the past nine months there have been many times when we have felt helpless. We are doing everything we can to make sure Luke gets the very best treatment possible, and it requires a lot of time, money, energy, and perseverance to make all of it happen. At the same time, much (if not most) of the situation with Luke's health is completely out of our control. As much as we endeavor to exercise control over these circumstances, ultimately it's out of our hands.
That can be a helpless feeling. So...we pray. To our God who is in complete control. To our Father who loves His child Luke. We ask for healing. We ask for mercy. We ask for miracles. We ask for peace in the midst of uncertainty. And what's left for us to do when we've prayed and wept and begged and prayed again until we're completely exhausted?
We pray some more.
This is a big week for Luke. Tomorrow he will have his first full body scans since he completed radiation in late April. On Wednesday he will resume his chemo treatments. His body has been so tired, his Doc has given him some time off for recovery. It's been over a month since his last chemo ended. This process is so long. We have received so much support, such amazing encouragement, and so many prayers.
We need you to pray some more.
1) For the scans to show no remaining cancer in Luke's chest cavity. Zero tumors. Zero cancer. Completely gone. Forever.
2) For Luke's body to find renewed strength, for his blood counts to increase, for him to have energy to withstand the final stages of his chemo treatments.
3) For rest, patience, and peace for Luke, Laura, and me as we walk this long and difficult path.
4) We're so thankful to be able to celebrate recent Jay's graduation...so proud of him and grateful for what God is doing in his life.
The scan process begins at 8:00 on Monday morning. Results typically come back within a day or two. The chemo begins on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., with Luke hopefully coming home on Thursday night.
Our prayer remains the same...God heal our boy. We can't stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu
(for Same, Jay, & Luke)
Thank you to my friend Pete and so many others who have recently reminded me that it has been awhile between blog posts. May was a busy month for Jay because of his crazy baseball schedule and all of his Senior events and preparations. Jay is graduating from Mason High School this Sunday, and his open house is on Monday night. We're looking forward to celebrating Jay and seeing a bunch of family and friends over the weekend.
Luke is holding steady. His most recent chemo treatments ended on May 13th. His blood counts have been slower to bounce back, which is very common for people who have been in chemo for as long as Luke has. He will be back for another round next Wednesday (after the big Jay party is over!), and then his scans are scheduled for Monday, June 13th. We continue to pray that the scans will show no cancer remaining anywhere in Luke's chest. Zero tumors, zero cancer.
Luke has made tremendous strides with his prosthetic leg. He acquired a set of "smart" crutches, which provide support down by the wrist rather than under the armpits. They are light and Luke can maneuver very well with them. His Physical Therapist has given him the OK to walk with just one crutch, which will soon lead to him using only a cane and then eventually he'll walk with no help at all. It is fun to see Luke embracing this challenge. His team has been a huge encouragement and the new crutches are a major asset. Between the physical therapy and his schoolwork, Luke is making great progress and is on track to be full time back at Mason High School in the Fall.
There is so much to be praying for. Luke's life is so hard. Lots of time in the hospital, with limited freedom to enjoy being a 15 year old kid. So much loss and grief. Please keep praying, and keep visiting and sending cards when you are able. We have 35 - 40 more scheduled trips to Grand Rapids coming up, so the Speedway gas cards are so amazing. The meals are a blessing as well...June and July are wide open if you'd like to jump in there.
Mostly, we need prayer for God to completely heal Luke's body from this cancer. We can't stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay, and Luke)