Luke has completed his first week on Work Crew at TimberWolf Lake. There were lots of positives. Luke loves it here. He loves being able to serve. Most of all, he loves meeting new people and hanging out with his team. The entire camp team has embraced him, and everyone has been quick to pray and offer encouragement. In addition, over 70 High School kids put their faith in Jesus Christ during the week, and Luke got to be a part of that. That was the best part.
Not surprisingly, there were also lots of challenges. Luke's health is in slow decline. He has struggled with dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, and overall fatigue. He has missed a lot of work, and at times he wondered if he would be better off simply going back home. We are impressed with his courage and his resolve. Even though his contribution looks different from other Work Crew kids, he is determined to make that contribution nonetheless. On the plus side, Luke has felt a LOT better the past few days, and we've been thankful to see him starting to find a better daily rhythm.
Yesterday, when Luke was feeling very discouraged, he received three pieces of mail, all with the same message. These friends urged Luke to "cherish each day" on Work Crew, and reminded Luke that he was an "inspiration and a light" to so many. Luke was visibly transformed by the kind and encouraging words found in these letters. Please keep sending notes to Luke, and please keep praying for Luke and for our family. It means a lot.
Our prayer remains the same. We can't stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay, & Luke)
Luke wrote the following blog post, to update everyone and say "thank you" for all the support.
You always hear people with cancer talk about how it is a battle. I can see how people would feel that way, but I’ve never felt that way. I have always felt like the doctors were fighting the cancer, and I was just along for the ride. This made me feel alone and helpless. In spite of this, ever since I was diagnosed, I have never felt truly alone. I have had a crazy amount of people supporting me, including doctors, child-life specialists, therapists, and most importantly, friends and family. The staff at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is more amazing than we could ever have hoped for. My doctors, Dr. Weicht and Dr. Kurt, work hard and are very kind, the nurses are sweet and patient, and the child-life specialists (Spencer, Rhys, Audra, Cassie, Bridget, and Ashley to name a few) are always there when I need them most. My prosthetists, Shaun and Joe, are funny and sensitive to my needs. My physical therapist, Jeanne King, is the best. She taught me how to use my leg and has never given up on me. These aren’t just people I interact with professionally, they have become some of my closest friends.
Even more, I can’t say thank you enough to my friends and family. When I was first diagnosed, my grandparents gave up working abroad in Budapest to come and live with us for four months. That was amazing. I have been sent too many kind notes, gifts, and gift cards to count, and for that I am eternally grateful. I have had tons of visitors and loved every single one. I’ve never met a visitor I didn’t like. There were classmates that came all the way to Grand Rapids to visit me in the hospital when my leg was amputated. There were new friends who came to meet me when they heard about my situation, and have since become some of the best friends I have ever had. Some people have visited many times, and that has lifted my spirits every time. My parents and brothers have been by my side every step of the way.
Ever since I was diagnosed I have been sick and felt sick, and I am still sick now, but every single time someone reaches out or comes to visit it makes a difference. My situation is not ideal, but I know that because of Jesus if I do not survive I get to go to heaven, so that’s pretty ideal. We are leaving today for TimberWolf Lake. I have always dreamed of being on Work Crew at TimberWolf Lake, and for the next three weeks I will be part of the laundry and housekeeping crew. Thank you for your prayers. Please keep sending cards and coming to visit, either at TimberWolf Lake or when I get home. That's the biggest thing.
Please know how thankful I am for everything people have done for me!
Your friend, Luke Granger.
The tradition on the 1oth floor (Pediatric Oncology) at DeVos Children's Hospital is that whenever a child completes their chemotherapy treatments, the entire staff holds a big "no mo chemo" celebration in their honor. The Doctors and nurses and other professionals line up by the exit doors of the clinic with huge signs and banners and applaud the courage and perseverance they've observed over the previous weeks, months, or years. Luke has enjoyed watching a bunch of these ceremonies happen for other kids, and always dreamed of the day when he would finally be finished with his own chemo treatments so he could celebrate with his caregivers. Once Luke found out he would no longer be receiving chemo (his current treatment is a different kind of therapy), he immediately requested a "no mo chemo" ceremony of his own. It was bittersweet, because in Luke's case the chemo treatments have not eradicated the cancer from his body, but it was a really meaningful (see photos!) milestone for Luke.
Luke was treated with chemotherapy for 20 consecutive months, which is about 10% of his entire life. Crazy. Overall, he feels much better without it. He no longer feels dizzy and foggy all the time, and his nausea and the other stomach discomfort is mostly gone. His hair is growing back. His blood counts are strong. We are thankful for these blessings. At the same time, we know it is likely that, without the chemo, the cancer in Luke's body will progress. He has already begun to experience a nagging cough and some difficulty catching his breath because of the tumor in his lung. His Doctors are hopeful that his new treatment will stabilize the disease, but we have no way of knowing. The expectation is that eventually the cancer will grow, but so far that hasn't happened, and we continued to pray that God will reach down and scrub Luke's body completely clean of this awful disease. Zero cancer. That's the goal.
Thank you all for your continued prayers. We are so thankful. A few updates:
1) We are 20 days away from Luke's Work Crew assignment at at TimberWolf Lake. Please pray for Luke's overall health to remain strong enough for him to participate. He really wants to fulfill his dream of serving on Work Crew at a Young Life camp. He's been assigned to the laundry and housekeeping crew :)
2) Over the past few weeks Luke has had a steady stream of visitors to our home. That makes a huge difference. It's amazing how much brighter things are for Luke when he gets to hang out with others...he's always been energized by people.
3) We continue to receive a steady stream of encouraging cards, emails, and texts. Because we continue to make trips to Grand Rapids once or twice each week, the Speedway, Amazon, Chick Fil A, and Jersey Giant gift cards continue to be a huge blessing.
While our circumstances continue to be heartbreaking and exhausting, we are so grateful for every single day we get to spend with Luke. He's the best. Our prayer remains the same. We can't stop, WON'T stop praying for God to heal our boy. (James 5:14-16)
James & Lu
(for Sam, Jay, & Luke)