Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can I Have a Do-Over Please!


CJ finally had the opportunity to spend some time with a special kid this week. His named is Patrick Pedraja and he is also the son of an officer with the Police Dept CJ's dad works for. Pat is just 14 years old and the week we saw him he had just completed his last round of chemotherapy after three and half years of treatment for Leukemia. We had been hoping to get CJ and Pat together ever since CJ's diagnosis back in September but this was the first opportunity. God's timing is perfect!

It was moving to see CJ and Pat together and listen to them converse about things no young boys should be able to chat about so naturally. The discussed the similarities and differences in their treatments. They talked about their ports and their experiences with chemo. They talked about things and used words that would be foreign to most adults. They certainly were to me less than a year ago. As I sat and watched them and I spoke with Pat about his future plans, I realized God was giving me an amazing "do-over". I had prayed for this "do-over" but never expected it to come.

You see, our family met Pat about two years ago while visiting briefly at a friends home. He had come to visit the family while we happened to be there. We were told he had Leukemia. I confess I did not really know anything about Leukemia at the time and I am ashamed to admit, I did not make any effort to try to find out more about it either. I did not even realize it was a type of Cancer. I thought it was a blood disorder of some type. All I understood was that he was sick and was receiving treatment for it. Of course, that should have been all that it took for me to try to understand what he and his family were going through and offer my sincere compassion and heartfelt prayers. I do remember being told he was receiving treatment at the time and I remember him having to go inside and lie down after only a short time of playing. It wasn't ignorance that kept me from understanding what he was experiencing that day. It was selfishness. Unfortunately, I was so consumed with my own struggles and feelings that day (which now seem so insignificant) that I did not take the proper time to "....not only look to my own interests, but also tot he interests of others." Phil 2:4

Within a year of meeting him, CJ was unexpectedly diagnosed with Lymphoma, another word I knew nothing about. As we entered the world of cancer and chemotherapy, I learned rather quickly what Pat's world was like and what he and his family were going through. It is unfortunate that it took that turn of events in my life for my eyes to be opened. Needles to say, I have deeply regretted that day of first meeting Pat ever since, and on more than one occasion have wished I could do it all over.

I wish I could say that since then I have not struggled with this. On the contrary, now that my eyes are opened to it, I only see it all the more clearly. I have been continually shocked at the level of selfishness I am able to demonstrate again and again. I truly believe selfishness runs deeper than many of us realize. The root of all sin is pride. And selfishness is pride on full display. I am convinced that it is this very thing that keeps us from truly serving others as God intended and from demonstrating Christ's character in this world. Selfishness, after all, is the antithesis of Christ. He laid down His own life for us. There is no more selfless act than that.

In and odd twist of fate (or more likely, God's desire to make sure this hardhead truly learned the lesson) the majority of CJ's treatments are in a bed at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital lying under a roof tile with Pat Pedraja's name on it in big, bright, blue letters. I am not kidding! You do realize by now that this his how God deals with me again and again! To enlighten you as to just how unlikely this is please consider the following: Pat only had about a month of treatment at Joe DiMaggio before being transferred to St. Joseph's in Tampa for the remainder of his care. The majority of kids treated at JoeD in this unit do not even paint a roof tile. There are 100's of roof tiles placed all over the unit, many of which I will never see unless I am placed in those particular beds. There are over 24 beds in the unit and CJ just happens to spend the majority of his time lying under Pat's tile. You already know I do not believe in coincidence so I suppose that is enough said about that.

I remember staring up at it one day as I sat by CJ's bed while he received chemo. I was praying and confessing that I had been selfish the day I met Pat and wishing I could have that day to "do-over" so I could be more compassionate towards him and his family. So I could at least make an attempt to understand and leave that day committed to praying faithfully for him as so many have for CJ.

Although He forgave me, God did not give me that day to go back and "do over". However, He did graciously give me a different day! Seeing Pat the other day, in the same home I first met him, and knowing his treatment was complete was such a blessing. I was truly able to understand. I was able to talk to him and care about him and attempt to understand what he was experiencing.

It brought me a lot of joy to see him and CJ playing together in the yard. It was the first time CJ seemed completely at ease in a group of kids at physical play. He knew Pat had a port in his chest just like him. He knew Pat knew exactly what he felt and understood his private thoughts and fears. Pat was able to understand the frustration CJ feels when his lower body does not cooperate with his upper body. The limp was not awkward or unfamiliar to Pat. He understood the tightness in his joints that CJ struggles with because he deals with it himself. Most importantly, CJ was able to look at Pat, now at the end of his treatment, and see the end of his own treatment maybe just a bit more clearly.

Permit me to share something with you. After our visit with Pat and watching him and CJ interact together, I had a picture of a race. There were lots of runners. The race was long and hard. None of the runners had ever run this kind of race before and were many were not even sure how they got in the race in the first place. The runners were exhausted and could not see the goal line in sight. But they had to keep running no matter what. Quitting was not an option. The runners were always aware that some would not finish the race and that was unthinkable.
Some of the runners finished the race ahead of others. They walked off to meet up with friends and onlookers who had been cheering them on. They celebrated their victory and left the race. Some runners finished the race and went off for water and were just grateful for the race to be over, the pain behind them. But some runners finished the race and instead of walking away they seemed to stay and linger at the goal line unable to turn away from the other runners still in the thick of the race. Instead, they turned back, faced the runners still running and cheered them on, encouraging them to press forward and finish the race.

Pat is that type of runner. He is lingering at the goal line, encouraging others, and refusing to leave anybody behind. How do I know? Because he did it for CJ the other day. And because he did it for 20,000 other kids. Due to his experience with Cancer, Pat started a non-profit organization called Driving for Donors, Bone Marrow Donors that is! And since its inception in 2007, he had added over 20,000 additional Bone Marrow Donors to the National registry. Check our his website at www.drivingfordonors.com and register to become a bone marrow donor if you are not already one. If you are a minority, please especially check this out and consider becoming a donor. Children (and adults) of Latin and Asian descent have an extremely difficult time finding matches and often die before one can be located because minorities are under-represented on the NationalRegistry. It is as simple as a cheek swab to get started.

It is my sincere hope that CJ, like Pat, will also be a runner that lingers at the goal line, turns back and encourages others that are still in the race. And I pray that God will somehow lead me to be a better example to him, and to all my children, of what that looks like.

"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (Acts 20:24)


Prayers: CJ has chemo and a spinal tap this Friday. Please pray for him to have a steadfast spirit and full health. He has been given the go ahead from his doctors to play baseball in the fall. However, he will need to try out this Saturday to be placed on a team. Please pray for God to provide him with the perfect coach and team for his situation. I believe he is a little worried about his ability due to the difficulty he is having with his ankles and full lack of mobility. He came to me the other day and said, "Mommy, I was the the bath tub and I was thinking and praying about what to do about baseball because I am not sure how my ankles will do." His daddy told him that baseball was still almost two months away and that is a lot of time for them to loosen up and feel better. So we signed him up and are hoping for improvement by then. Please pray for his continued healing in this area. We believe it is a joint stiffness due to the medications he is receiving and very common with chemotherapy.


Pats Roof Tile:


If you have not read the post about the roof tiles in Pediatric Ambulatory click here: CJ's Star


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,
What a wonderful message! Thanks for the reminder of how ugly our pride is. CJ should be his interview in a little over an hour, and I will be praying for him. I will also be praying for you all tomorrow during his chemo/spinal tap treatment.
Much love,
Amy

Martha Rivero said...

Dear Dawn,

Beautiful post!!!! We will keep praying for CJ and the family.

With love,

Martha

Enzo said...

Dawn,

I'm happy you got to spend the day with Pat and his family. I've heard you speak about him and his tile and his drive a lot over the last six months. Am I too old to be a bone marrow doner? Does it hurt? How long does it take to recover after donating? I think I would like to sign up on Pat's registry too.

I'm sure he and CJ had a silent bond that day besides what they could share out loud. I'm happy that Pat is the type of child that finishes the race and looks back and cheers the others on. I'm glad that CJ got to see another little boy that has come out the other end of treatment.

I know you would know the correct verse and analogy but that race you were talking about. It kind of makes me think about some Christians that become saved, become grounded but not all of them like to walk around and help the others to the line. Some don't want to encourage and plant seeds and some just want to feel surrounded with others that crossed the line and left the others behind. Do you think there are some like that? What would you call the ones that wait, help and love the other guy across?

I want so badly for CJ to be able to play baseball. I will start praying that he will get the correct coach that can put him in a position where maybe he isn't constantly on the run or a coach that just encourages the kids to "do their best", be a team and have fun.

I love the little boys on the basketball team that finally let the "autistic" child that has faithfully been the water boy and helper for two years to get out there and play and route him on and cheer for him and carry him around. I wish they would have done it sooner but that is the teammate they will remember when they are adults. Not the all star, not the catcher, the autistic child. Let CJ be the one that will be an example of courage for all these boys.

I pray for him tomorrow during all the port access (which is his least favorite) and the spinals. Maybe he can stop in again and see the guys from the radio, let them know he is there with no food, has to have many procedures that day and appreciates everyone that is calling in their donations.

Love Mom

Amber said...

You must be really excited to try out for baseball C.J.! I hope you do well! Maybe we could come watch a game! :P Well, we will be praying that you will heal and that you will make the team. We love you C.J. and know you'll do GREAT!!!!!! Love, Amber <3 :D

Anonymous said...

I am proud to say that it was my backyard that these two special young boys got to meet. I am blessed that I get to be a part of these boys life. They are so very special to me and my family. They have taught my young boys so much and I am honored to say they are friends with my children. we love them both dearly and not a day goes by that our family doesn't think of them and pray for them. Dawn and Chris you are doing a wonderful job raising such fine children. We had a wonderful day in our very own backyard brought back so many memories I love you dearly xoxoxox Always Pam

Anonymous said...

Hey Mrs. Dawn,
Just wanted to say thanks for writing this, it was truly amazing to read!
One sentence especially stuck with me, "And selfishness is pride on full display." This is so true! It made me think of how much i let pride creep in and make me selfish and bitter. Also it was a great reminder of how often pride rules in us, instead of Christ.
Thanks again and i will be praying for Friday!

love and miss you guys... a lot!
andrea-

Janet said...

Dawn, what a beautiful picture of running a race and turning to cheer others on once we've made it to the end. I love it. Thanks again for sharing.

Wilma said...

Hi Dawn,
My prayers are with you for today. I will pray for you and CJ and the medical team. I'm glad that you and CJ had that opportunity to meet with that very special boy, Pat. I'm sure that both boys can truly share and lean on each other for like you call it a "race." I can understand how easy it is to get caught up in our own world of "worries" that we don't see the needs in others....however Dawn, you are certainly not a person that I would describe as "selfish". In fact over the years that I have been able to witness your life, it would be the opposite. You are a generous woman, a godly women, scared and wounded like we all are... but certainly a giving person in what ever form you are able to give at that moment. May God continue to guide your journey and give you the resilience and wisdom that you need.
Your friend,
Wilma

Anonymous said...

Dawn, loved the blog, and how open you are to all of the readers. I could change circumstances and names and sign the blog with my name. We all fall short of Gods glory, but praise God for the gift of Christ. Try not to be so hard on yourself, Gods planning and timing were perfect as usual. His mercy extends beyond our imagination, always wanting us to learn from our sins. Wow we worship an loving God.I will continue to praise him for CJ"s health and pray for your family unit. TO GOD BE THE GLORY FOR THE THINGS HE HAS DONE.>>>>>>Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.>>>>>>>Psalm 126:5-6 those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy,he who goes out weeping carrying seeds to sow, will return with songs of joy carring sheaves with him.>>>>>>>>>>>

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn,

We are leaving for 3 weeks and I just wanted you to know that although we wont be able to read your blogs, we will still always be thinking and praying for all of you.

Lots of love,

Nicole Ana Alberto

ily figueroa said...

Hi George family!!!!!! Sorry I have not posted anything in a while. But you guys r always in our prayers. We love you. We will be praying for the specific prayers you have requested. I would love to get together. Let me know when you guys r available.
Blessings,
ILY
BTW my friend Ginnie met Cj at the relay walk and was so happy to see him, she knew of him because I have shared your story. see ya,
ILY

Anonymous said...

You never stop amazeing me. Your spirit and your faith is so... I can't even find the word I want to use or a word that fits. You are one wonderful and blessed woman and mother. I trely admire your strength and courage. You help make me stronger in my faith and also make me see my weakness also. That is a good thing because if we do not see them there is no way to fix or work on them. God is so good and I wanted you to know that I am still praying for you and CJ and the whole family. I pray CJ will be able to play ball this season. I have a 7 year old grandson who plays and I am going to tell him to pray for CJ that he will be able to play also. Love you all even though I have never met you..
Gods love to you always
Jean Mosley



My Job as a mother is to do what God ask me to do. When things come up that I can not handle or fix, He takes over and gets me thru it.
He gives me my strength daily to deal with what life throws at me..He is my salvation thru all things.. He is my God
Jean Mosley
5-26-09