Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Winning Battle


CJ completed his first round of home health chemo. By day four, CJ was pretty tired and a little nauseous from all the medicine. It was the first time he was sick enough to keep him in bed and it saddened me to watch him struggle with an upset stomach. It reminded me of how he was before he got diagnosed and I relived much of those awful days. I desperately wanted to just spend the day cuddled under the covers with him and read and talk and nap and giggle and apologize and do what I didn't do then, but with three other children, my wants and realities are in conflict. Thankfully, by Tuesday and Wednesday the cool breeze moved in. I opened the windows to let in some fresh air and by then CJ had recovered and was able to enjoy the beautiful weather in the back yard. What a great and refreshing gift from above! Thank you Lord! We spent the next 3 days outside as much as possible enjoying it. He spent time in the hammock reading, played with his siblings, and was able to enjoy the company of family since we could sit out back and visit in the open air. It was great to see him active and I can only imagine that it helps rebuild his strength. We did school, did chores and tried to function as normal as possible throughout the remainder of the week. Chris is back to work and that helps with the routine of things. I really feel for him because I can see his obvious struggle every day as he prepares to leave. He wakes up every morning and then goes into CJ's room and cuddles up and prays for him. Then I have to tear him away and tell him to go work. He says driving away is always the hardest part. But once he gets there and gets involved in the cases he is working on and talks with his co-workers, he feels better. I know he prefers to be here but it is important for our home to run as normal as possible on the days we don't have any appointments or chemo. We have an appointment tomorrow (Friday) morning for CJ's blood counts and to have his port re-accessed so he can start another 4 day regimen of home administered chemo. Please pray for his counts to be positive and for our home health to go smoothly.

The home health did go smoothly the two days we had it other than a moment when the nurse could not get blood return and we began to wonder what that would mean. But it finally came and he was able to receive his medication. I have to honestly and humbly and embarrassingly confess that although I prayed for favor with the home health nurse and I asked God to send one of His people or someone who needed to hear about his Son, as the time drew closer, I got more and more nervous about who would be coming here and what kind of person he or she would be. I started to obsess over whether they would be clean and kind, experienced, speak good English and communicate well. I must confess my failure that when the home health nurse called to schedule the appointment I immediately was disappointed when I heard a strong accent and had to ask him to repeat a couple of times what he had said. He wanted to come right away but Chris was still at church and I knew he wanted to be here so I told the nurse to come a little later. When a little later turned out to be much later it allowed me all day to judge someone I never even met based on an accent and a bad connection over a cell phone. I justified this sin by saying I was just worried about CJ and what kind of care he would get. As if an accent really determines the level of care you receive! Thankfully, God sweetly but sternly dealt with me even before the gentleman ever came to the door and I am glad for it because when I opened the door to a friendly, warm, islander, with a beautiful accent wearing a simple gold cross I was definitely dealt with! But oh, how God keeps showing me the depths and despairs of my own heart. "Create in me a pure heart O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me!" Psalm 51:10

Now that CJ's update and my confession are out of the way, I want to share with you something that happened as CJ and I watched the world series together this week. We were watching the highlights of the game when we saw a special segment about a young boy who "lost his battle with cancer." I tensed up as we watched the piece wondering what CJ was thinking and feeling as he sat next to me. Now, if I was perfectly honest with you, my first instinct as a mother whose son is battling cancer when I watched this interview was that I wanted to know what form of cancer this boy had. They never mentioned it other than "he lost his battle with a rare cancer". Knowing CJ's is also a rare cancer, I waited for the piece to end and then made my way to the computer and typed in the boys name..... John Challis......as I typed, the first thing I noticed was the initials. J.C.... C.J.....J.C...interesting. Then I scanned the articles relating to him searching for some diagnosis beyond the word 'cancer'. I kept thinking thoughts like....this has to be a more serious form of cancer. It must be more rare than CJ's... Why in the world would I find comfort in knowing that this boy had a much more serious form of cancer than CJ? I needed an explanation for why this boy "lost his battle" as they worded it. I kept reading and for some strange reason I kept thinking if I read long enough or found just the right article about him it would end different and he would be okay now. I started to question my own twisted thinking and yet I felt compelled to keep reading.



As I continued to read the articles searching for a diagnosis I noticed more similarities. This boy also had a very difficult time accepting that he would no longer be playing sports. Again I was reminded of CJ. I read that the the boy's story spread throughout his community and beyond and it again reminded me of CJ. I kept searching for his diagnosis and that's when I saw the boys jersey. No. 11. I just stared at it and thought, 'no...that can't be right. That's not CJ's number'. I sat glued to the chair staring at the screen willing the number to change. Finally, when I could stand it no longer, I got up and went to CJ's room. I reached into his closet for his jersey. I held the jersey away from me at first and then I hesitantly turned it around. No. 11. I can't explain what I thought at that point. I told myself.. it's just a coincidence Dawn, stop over thinking everything. But I have so trained myself to immediately pause and ask God what he is trying to tell me or show me whenever the word coincidence pops in my head, that I again questioned what God was trying to tell me in this. I showed Chris the jersey who had also been reading the article over my shoulder at the time. He was obviously upset and walked away to compose himself. But I kept reading and wondering what the message was in it for me. Why did I have to see this story? Why all the similarities? My mind kept coming back to the line that said this young boy, "Lost his battle with cancer". It kept bothering me but I couldn't put my finger on it until I read in the article that John was asked if he ever wonders why this happened to him, and he said, "I think I figured that out. God wanted me to get sick because he knew I was strong enough to handle it. I'm spreading His word and my message. By doing that, I'm doing what God put me here to do." I wonder how many people can actually say they know they are doing what God put them here to do? John also said, "Life ain't about how many breaths you take, it's what you do with those breaths." How can those words be from a boy who "lost his battle". They don't sound like losing words to me.
As you can tell, I am really beginning to hate the term "lost his battle with cancer". It bothers me because it implies that physical survival is the only determining factor that decides whether you win the battle. Do you automatically win the battle if you survive regardless of how it affects your life? Can you survive physically and yet still lose the battle if it doesn't draw you closer to the Lord and His will for your life? Can you survive and still lose the battle if God receives no glory for your healing or recovery? Do you really "lose the battle" if you stand before the Lord and hear, "well done my good and faithful servant." That is true victory isn't it? Surrendering your life to God for His use sounds like victory to me. I would much rather know I accomplished what God put before me than that I lived a long life never knowing what my purpose was. But this isn't me battling cancer, this is my son. Can I confidently say the same for him? I had to pull out the journals I have kept for CJ since he was born and re-read them to encourage myself after reading this boys story. It reminded me that I have offered this child to God from the very beginning and it helps me to trust God with this situation. Here is an excerpt from an entry I wrote in June 2007 before CJ ever began to struggle with any of this:

"...I am excited to see what God does in your life.
I truly believe He has great plans for you.
By great, I don't mean the worldly definition of great,
but God's definition of great.
It may not be great in the world's standards.
It may include hardships and even suffering but if you follow
Him you will be completely fine.
May your goal in life be to stand before our Holy Living God and hear,
"Well done, good and faithful servant."
I love you, Mommy"
I called Chris and wanted to know how this boys story affected him? He said, through tears, that he was reminded of a sermon he had recently listened to from our pastor Al Pino and a specific quote that he said. He believed Al was quoting our other pastor Corey. We are extremely blessed and thankful to have two pastors who are so faithful and careful with the scriptures. We have been spoon fed the very words of God through their faithfulness. The sermon Chris was referring to was on Romans 6 and the victory we have in Christ. Al said that if you are in Christ, the war is already won. We may engage in many battles but victory is guaranteed.
After talking to Chris and applying this to our situation and my struggle I was reminded that my hopes for CJ are not just for survival of the battles, but for victory! The one is imminent and in Gods hands, but the other is already guaranteed!
The war has already been won my friends, regardless of the outcome of the battle!
"But thanks be to God. He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" 1 Cor 15:57





15 comments:

ily(hearts) said...

Dawn once again you have left me speechless. I am in awe to see how open and honest you are with us. A lot of the things you post I can relate to. But man, to actually come out and confess it....You are a godly woman. I am so happy to be in your life. This has made me see you in a whole different way. Thanks for being such a good example and letting yourself be lead by the Lord. We will continue to pray for Cj and all of you. Just know that the Lord is with you at all times. Hope to see you guys soon.
ILY

mefea said...

Dawn,

Never apologize for a long post :) Everything you say draws my heart to the Lord, the gospel, and challenges me in my walk of faith through every circumstance. Thanks for sharing your life with us once again and allowing us to learn from what you are struggling with...

CJ, you WIN the battle everyday as you run to God and the scriptures for your encouragement, wisdom, and life. Just like your mom wrote a few posts ago; there is a battle, a disease, that lingers in all of us and I hope you are encouraged as you see your fight in this battle again SIN being won MORE and MORE everyday as you face these trial.

I love you all sooo much and I am SOOOO grateful for how this blogs allows us to stay connected with you and up-to-date as we pray for you all.

Hebrews 12:1
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

~Melinda p

mefea said...

Dear Lord,

I thank you for the George Family! I thank you for bringing them into Palm Vista, I thank you for bringing them into my life. You and only you are all knowing and able to discern what everything means and how it will all work out, so I pray that we will learn to trust. May our trust in the almighty Savior grow, may our patience be ever matured, may your name continue to be glorified in this situation.

I pray for those who are actively fighting this battle such as CJ and his family, may they have faith which never falters and may they steward this time well. I pray for those who are watching this battle to not walk away unaffected/changed.

Lastly, I pray that we will all be able to look at our current circumstances in light of ETERNITY! Oh what a beautiful day that will be, when every knee will bow, every tongue confess that you ARE Lord, and WE WILL SEE YOU FACE TO FACE.

I love you Lord and I ask for complete healing of Your son CJ George. May you multiply His strength in the coming months, both spiritually and physically!

All Glory to you,
Melinda p

Raul said...

I haven't posted on here since I first came accross your blog (even though I didn't post, doesn't mean CJ wasn't in my prayers), but in reading this update today you mentioned going on the internet and reading up on John's case. When I was going through my battle with cancer I did the very samething and compared my situation to others. It was very defeating at times and sometimes even created anxiety and fear in me, God says to cast all of your fears, worries and anxieties on him. Remeber, it's not what you read or what doctors say, it's what God says.

Carmen Bell said...

Chris & Dawn & family,
I am always moved and stirred by these posts and am choked up this a.m. regarding this latest one. I appreciate your openess and honesty! I honestly look forward to reading these posts because they serve as devotions for me. I am always receiving lessons from God through them. All of you are in our (me & Iris) prayers continuously! The other night she kept saying CJ's name during our prayer time, and I trust that she too is being affected!!! Romans 8:28 "We know that in ALL THINGS GOd works for good with those who love him, thos whom HE HAS CALLED according to HIS PURPOSE."

Much luv & blessings,
Carmen Bell

Tammi said...

Dear Dawn & Chris & CJ,
I am so moved by your beautiful post today, Dawn. When I read your words I felt like I was right there sitting with you on the couch watching the game with CJ, or kneeling right next to Chris as he prays for CJ in the morning, or driving away with him to go to work, feeling his pain. I wish I could be there and just look at you all, watch you exist with each other. I love you all so much and I miss you terribly. We continue to pray for you all, especially CJ. My CJ.
I love you very much,
Aunt Tammi

Heather said...

When life wounds us and we're in deep pain, we instinctively cry out to God. And it is then that we hear Him and feel His presence so clearly. In the midst of tragic circumstance, we can have the richest fellowship with Christ afforded to us. That's when our faith becomes fully real, and we experience the assurance of things we've hoped for. We have confirmation in our hearts for what we've always believed with our minds. We may have talked for a lifetime about being a child of the Father, but now, as helpless creatures who have stumbled and been wounded, it becomes true for us: I am a child, he is my Father.
He is your Father. You'll find it out at the bend in the road.
I wish that I could take the credit for writing that but I didn't :) I took that paragraph out of the book When Your World Falls Apart By David Jeremiah. (It was previously titled A Bend in the Road) If I can be so bold, I would recommended this to all of you who are following this blog. Mr. Jeremiah battled cancer, only to have it return again. As you all may remember, my sister Dawn, has quoted from this book not to long ago, & is currently reading it along with my brother Chris. It is a great book to get an insight of what they are going thru, also if you have been thru a trial or are going thru one, this book is very helpful.

I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord's workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.
Charles Spurgeon

Amen! How true is that? Now, I feel like I need to say sorry for such a long comment! But I really wanted to share this!
I love you all so very much. We continue to pray for you all!
Heather

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ily (hearts) said...

Dawn,
I agree with what Carmen Bell posted. For me she nailed it right on the head. I look forward to your post "they are a devotion to me" The Lord teaches me a lot through your post. Once again thank you.
We love you,
Ily and her gang

Enzo said...

Baby,

Wow, After having the obstacle course blog up for a few days I thought we might see a long one but this one was really something. Dawn, how could you not go to the computer and check out what the little boy that "lost his battle" with cancer had? Yes, everything you said is so true about what it really means to win the battle no matter what but you are a flesh and blood Mom With every breath that you take you are praying for your son's complete recovery. The other day when I was speaking to you by the front door and Corey was playing and the kids were talking you heard a faint cough from the back of the house and right away you arched your back and sat straight up and said, Was that CJ?

I know it is hard for Chris to leave the house and go to work but I think it is harder for you to be in the house at all times. 24/7 you have this disease looking you in the eye and you are praying and cleaning and reading and sometimes I wish I could kidnap you for a few hours too.

It was so refreshing to see CJ earlier this week out in the yard practicing his pitch and enjoying the air. It was hard to see him the day he was in the bed not feeling well and I took the kids to the movies. None of them wanted to leave him and they all said we have to get this video for CJ as soon as it comes out.

Honey, I understand and I know that you sometimes struggle with "accents" as does Chris. It is amazing how God is using this time to put these people in your path to help you. We always have to remember that most people with accents speak at least 2 languages, usually 3. Americans are one of the few countries that mainly speak one language. I know you live in a mainly Spanish speaking neighborhood and it is sometimes frustrating to you and I never said this to you but I found it kind of comical that the first time I went to your church they were singing in Spanish. You know what I mean. Your confession about the caregiver with the accent reminds me of my late mother-in-law. My brother-in-law, Andres had testicle cancer which went into the lymphnodes and he had many surgeries, blood transfusions and chemmos and it was looking pretty badly for him. My mother-in-law was always openly prejudice against blacks. She was Catholic and she finally had a dream one night while Andres was in the Cancer Institute and Saint Eugenia came to her and said, your Son will be okay. I want you to know that he will be okay. I want you to remember the color of my skin though. She was a black saint. My mother-in-law was convicted and always remembered that time. We all have prejudices, even subtle ones, its great that we are big enough to admit it and ask forgiveness and more forward. I love you for that.

Love Mom

Enzo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Break the Mold said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Break the Mold said...

Hey Mom,
That's an interesting story about Dalia and it sadly reflects many of us. I never considered myself prejudiced in any way after my upbringing. It was just not something you or dad ever reflected to us and I have never thought skin color meant anything. But not being able to communicate because of language barriers or cultural barriers was a whole other experience for me when I moved into a predominanlty latin area. I have been open with all who know me about this so I wouldn't classify this as one of my "hidden hypocracies" as I mentioned in my last comment to Jackie. But God has been showing me that it falls under that "ignorant hypocracy" category. And you are right, He has been so kind to lead us to a predominately spanish church. We are thankful for that everyday! My church is a taste of Heaven when they sing a song in Spanish and others who don't speak spanish (including myself) continue in English or their native tongue! It is the most beautiful sound you will ever hear! Every tongue singing praises to our Lord. I always think to myself how cool it is that God can discern each and every language being sung and how beautiful it must sound to Him. But yes, it took me a while to get there. I had two encounters that really opened my heart. The first was when I saw a lady at our church speaking into her husbands ear while our pastor was praying and I thought "how rude!" I couldn't believe the audacity of some people! Then as she continued to do this during the rest of the opening I realized she was translating into her husband ear every word my pastor was saying. Talk about humbling! Then, one time I was at a retreat when two ladies behind me would not stop talking while my pastor's wife was teaching and amazing lesson. I got so annoyed at them. I truly almost turned around and asked them to stop talking when I realized she was also translating for the other lady. That is when my heart began to change. Here this lady loved the Lord and was seeking Him enoguh to come hear this teaching when she doesn't even speak the language. That is when I remember asking God to not just let me tolerate this but to find it beautiful. And He has! What is interesting is that when I finally surrendered to that He also gave me a whole new level of understanding of the language. Like you, I don't speak it fluently but I know the language and can decipher what is being said. He unplugged my ears another level when I unplugged my heart! That was sweet! Just don't tell anyone!


Today on the way to the hospital Chris and I were discussing the blog (and my sin). Then, as I was reading my bible on the way there I had the thought come directly to me that if Jesus called my house he would have a heavy middle eastern accent. I shared this silly thought with Chris and he laughed and said, "Yeah, if He even spoke English". We laughed but it really put things in perspective!

In reflection, I do not think it was in any way a sin to want to be able to communicate effectively with a person administering serious medications in my home to my child. I really do not. It is when that desire becomes judgment or begins to think the actual level of care administered would be effective based on a garbles cell phone call.

Anyway, I love you mom and glad you allowed me to probe my heart and reflect once again!
Your daughter and friend,
Dawn

Anonymous said...

Dawn,

I stand with all the comments posted that say, please don't ever apologize for how long your post is. In my opinion, the longer the better! I don't ever want to reach your last sentence when reading your postings. But, oh how they serve as a devotional, lesson, and unveiling. And I can not thank you enough for posting the pictures along side. You truly are allowing us into your home for your most vunerable moments and I am so thankful for that. I can not imagine the effort it takes to pull all of this together. But, I am so thankful that our Lord has placed this desire/obligation on your heart. And that you are an obedient servant! I have to confess that I have been thinking of your whole situation with a knot in my stomach last night and today. I had to take Kevin to the ER last night for a fever that was 102.4 with an ear thermometer, he threw up the tylenol, and was shivering uncontrollably. We took him and after a few hours had everything under control. They didn't find anything wrong with him and said it may be a touch of a stomach bug. But, watching him suffer broke my heart. Literally, my heart ached for him. I hated the feeling of seeing him with something wrong that I could not do anything to fix. You and CJ came to mind and I felt so bad! My compassion is with you as a mother. But, what you are allowing the Lord to do with you and through you makes me rejoice in getting to experience God more intimately than I ever have before! God truly is reaching and changing many through the George Family. If only more of us would walk in obedience and allow His great power to mold us. You guys are more alive than most people will ever be. You are living in the raw reality of crisis, pain, trial, and confussion and comforted by His peace and glory only! You guys are taking on a life changing-eternal life changing- challenge. And yes, you didn't choose it but God chose you! Because you are His good and faithful servant and He knew what you would do with this trial before you did! That feeling in my stomach is not a knot. It is an emotion I had to work out. And once again, through this post it was made possible. Thank you.

Jackie

Anonymous said...

Iliana said...
Dawn, thank you for sharing your heart and what God is doing. As I was praying today for you guys, I was just asking the Lord that your family's lives would affect everyone that comes in contact with you. I pray the Lord's continual favor on your family. He who is able to do more than we hope for or ask, to Him be the Glory. May God's peace and joy reign continually in your lives. I pray that His love will surround you on your coming in and your going out. To who shall we turn to? Who is able to do all things? To the only Wise God who Sovereignly coordinates all our steps. May you lean on our Faithful God.

Chris, I pray that you will be fully dressed in the armor of God.

I pray the Lord will put a hedge on your physical life to protect you from any harm.

Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore,having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Man, God is good, isn't He? His word is like living water to us.

May be your strong tower, your rock, Chris. Thank you for leading your family faithfully during this time. May our God give you renewed strength

Isaiah 40: 28-31
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
31but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Lean on the Lord unceasingly. May you find your rest in our God.

Roberto & Iliana

October 31, 2008 1:02 AM