Thursday, December 11, 2008

CJ's Star

CJ's counts were up and he was able to begin phase 3 of his chemotherapy on Monday. It began with a Spinal tap, some new chemo meds, and a review of his case with the doctors. It was followed by two shots in the legs on Tuesday that are administered simultaneously by nurses. Pet Scan results are in and it confirms what the CT Scan said. There is some mild lighted areas on the Pet Scans but no reason at this time to think they are new tumor areas. They think they are either continued improvement of the original tumors or post-treatment inflammation. They did express that CJ may never have clear scans because of scar tissue that can be left behind so we learning to let go of our desire to hear the words "all clear" knowing that there may always be some residual scarring. Yet we are still seeking God for complete healing of not just the cancer but all effects of the cancer as well.

Therefore, we charge in to stage three confident of continued healing and thankful for all of Gods grace in CJ's treatments. We are asking for prayer for continued protection against toxicity from the chemo and from painful side effects that are common at this stage.

I have shared with you before about how emotionally draining and painful it can be to be at the pediatric ambulatory unit for hours upon hours each week. But I have longed to share with you this feature of the pediatric ambulatory unit for some time. It is a feature most of the rest of the hospital actually knows nothing about unless they have been down there so you are getting a rare glimpse into a unit at the hospital not seen by many. It is a wonderful feature that brings comfort, hope, joy, smiles and even color to a very sad and depressing unit; but not until you get past its powerful implications.

The Real Sistine Chapel:

While studying the great artists with my children, I remember once reading that stepping into the Sistine Chapel and looking up at ceiling at the famous paintings of Michelangelo, "creates feelings of passion and an overwhelming sense of history." Those who viewed this masterpiece also relayed that looking up at the chapel ceiling provides a glimpse into the mind and heart of this great artist.

I could not even imagine what this must feel like until I walked into the pediatric ambulatory oncology unit at Joe DiMaggio for the first time. When you first enter you are confronted with feelings of passion and you embrace an overwhelming sense of history as you look up and see the ceiling tiles covered in paintings done by kids who frequent this unit. It is quite an overwhelming sight because you realize each and every tile represents a child (and a family) whose life has been touched by this life threatening disease.

I remember thinking at that time 'I don't want my child's name up there'. I know now that my thoughts betrayed my feelings which were, 'I don't want my child to have cancer." Nevertheless, I couldn't take my eyes off the ceiling. I kept reading the tiles and wondering about each child and all that they went through. Were they still in treatment? Were they cancer free? Did they win their battle with this devastating disease? I saw the name of a child I knew.....Pat Padraja is the son of another police officer who had recently battled Leukemia and is in recovery. I remembered seeing him a year prior at a friends house during his treatment. At first, I kept focusing only on Pat's tile and staring at his name. I kept telling myself, 'he's doing okay now, he's doing okay now, he's doing okay now'. I just kept repeating this mantra to myself. Seeing his tile actually brought me a ray of hope at that moment. I did not want to focus on the other tiles yet because I did not know who they were and where they were. The reality that many of them may not be 'doing okay now' kept creeping in. In time though, I began to take it all in. It really is a stunning sight. It is art at its finest. An expression of a child at the most intense moment in their life. Somehow, the child leaves not only their name on the ceiling but like Michelangelo did, they also leave a small glimpse into their life and heart through these simple tiles. My heart was grieved and yet oddly encouraged by seeing this collage of names suspended from above. I knew each and every child represented above me left a lasting mark not only on this ceiling, but on the lives of those who knew and loved them.

The child life specialist noticed us looking at them and asked us if we would like to paint a tile. I thought, 'No' but somehow said 'yes'. So we spent the next couple hours painting our very own ceiling tile. We stared at it for a long time not sure what to do. Many kids had added the things they loved like sports. Others painted scenic pictures, and some simply painted their name. We thought about it for a while and then began painting CJ's name among the stars. As I watched CJ paint I was reminded that it is the Lord who "determines the number of the stars and calls each by name." And just as the Lord knows every star by name, he knows CJ by name. So we named our star CJ and placed his name in the center of it to remind us that he is tucked firmly in the center of God's loving hands which created those very stars.

For the next couple of weeks we visited the unit for treatment and CJ's tile was always sitting on the floor, leaning up against a wall. That is when I realized I actually did want it up on the ceiling because I found that it bothered me that it wasn't hung. It felt incomplete. Before long, it disappeared into an office until a place could be be found to hang it. I figured it would probably get tucked away in a corner or back hallway where no one would see it much since ceiling space was limited. But just like the Lord has done with CJ's cancer from day one, it was placed out in the open for all to see. I had to smile as I realized his tile would literally shine down on the nurses and doctors everyday as they treated patients.

I pray that this simple ceiling tile will not only bring hope and encouragement to other patients as they visit the unit, but I also pray his star sings praises to the Lord as it is suspended from above just like the stars in the heavens do.

Praise the Lord,

Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him all his heavenly hosts,.
Praise him sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
Psalm 148: 1-3

Pictures of the ceiling.


Anonymous said...

Hi, CJ. God is using you to leave a lasting mark in many hearts. You are touching many lives. Keep on shining your bright light, CJ. I love your tile.

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,

That is the coolest ceiling I have ever seen! It makes me want to get creative with my own ceiling and/or walls! How fun would it be for all the kids to get to paint a wall! CJ, I love your star! Dawn, how I mentioned the other night, I am very inspired by the connections you make with "everything" to scripture! You truly do "bleed scripture". I pray that I will one day be able to pour out or pull out scripture from my heart like you do. Thank you for sharing the connections between your life experience and showing us how we truly can live by Faith and Hope because of His promises. I love you and have been wanting to post for a while. Harold is laying down with the baby, which allowed this opportunity that I am thankful for!


Anonymous said...

CJ I love your tile.
It is perfect!!! Just like the Lord made you and all those stars in the sky. I pray that the Lord will continue to use you. Cj you are VERY SPECIAL, because you are a child of GOD. You are always on our hearts and prayers. May you continue to shine like the stars in the sky. Shine for JESUS!!!
Ily and her gang
SW Ranches, Fl

~Jamie~ said...

That is so beautiful CJ,
im sure when docters and other children look at your tile they will feel the same.
it will brighten the lifes of the people who see it.
XX amber (jamie)

Anonymous said...

wow God is good! He is So Good!
thanks for shining like a star!!
you are a light to me by the courage you show everyday! i liked your idea and design it looks Great! mucho love,


Anonymous said...

I love your star! My favorite time to pray is outside when it's really dark and I look up at the stars and try to realize just how powerful our God is! It is amazing, and the stars remind me that God is in control and that nothing is too large for Him to handle. And God chose a star to guide people to His son, Jesus, on the night of his birth. Just like you, CJ, because you point everyone around you to Jesus Christ. Well done, you faithful servant!! We love you! Aunt Karen

Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn and CJ,

I loved the ceiling! I loved CJ's title very much, I believe so too children were not only painting a title but leaving their heart and history on it.

Just a reminder that we are continuously praying for CJ's healing and your family, we will pray and pray, God is good, and he speaking to us in so many ways, he has been calling me, I don’t know why yet, he has been preparing me, for some reason that still can not understand, but I trust him, I trust our GOD, I can see him in everything I do, in everything I touch, I can feel his presence when I pray, I thank God for every single experience that I am passing through now, because he is in each one of them .

Thank you for the update I was so looking forward to reading it today!!!

In Christ,


Noel said...

Hi Dawn,
I especially appreciated your post about the scan results the other day...I think it tells everything about your faith. If only we all could always remember to see everything through God's eyes like that - especially when we're struggling. Thank You for sharing and for giving me something to reflect on.
Always in Our Prayers,

Tammi said...

Dear Dawn & CJ, Chris, Ali & Brett & Corey,
Everyday when I come to work the very first thing that I do after I turn on my computer is check
BreaktheMold for an update and I am always so happy to read the latest post. I feel so much
closer to you all and I am so grateful for the technology that GOD has provided for me to be able
to do so. CJ, I am so grateful that your counts are good and that there are no new areas of concern and that you can move on to phase 3 of your treatment. So Far So Good! Thank You LORD GOD. My prayers are steadfast.
I love your star, CJ. It is unique and beautiful. I love you, too, CJ. You are unique and beautiful. I miss you all very much. We'll see you soon! Love always, Aunt Tammi

Anonymous said...

hi everyone--that ceiling is amazing.everytime i read this blog
i am overwhelmed by the miracles of
GOD!!! and yes cj you ARE a shining
star. uncle john and I pray for you
every day, and will always keep you
in our hearts. we love you and we
will see you soon.
love, aunt char

Anonymous said...

Hi CJ,
What a great looking star. It is beautiful. Remember that God values each and every one of his stars/children. HE is with you every step of the way.I am always praying for you.

please check your e-mails CJ.

Cesar said...

Hi CJ,

Well my Hawk/Ospray keeps reminding me about the important things in life when I'm praying/talking to GOD and it's amazing how HE keeps answering me thru this beautiful bird! He never fails to let me know that HE is listening and that HE is right next to us! And that these important things in life are GOD and our relationships! CJ we are praying for U at "The Loop" @ in Wellington, FL! The 5th & 6th graders are praying for you also! There are about 10 to 12 students who are thinking of you!! Thank you for being a star and for sharing it!! GOD loves you and so do we!!

Cesar S

Anonymous said...

C.J. one of the hardest things about you being sick is that I can't hug you and cuddle with you< so I am sending you a big hug and kiss. You truly are a shining star to me and you shine the love of Jesus for all to feel and see. Not a bad artist either. I love you with all my heart buddy, you are in my thoughts and prayer constantly. love grandma c

Anonymous said...

Hi CJ!
I love the beautiful star you painted! "You are the light of the world", just like Jesus said, "like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see." And your star is also just in time for Christmas to remind everyone of that special star that told the world that Jesus was born. So your star is just perfect and is shining bringing hope and joy to the other children and parents at the hospital...just like Jesus and just like you!

Anonymous said...

One of the things that I have enjoyed here in Watkinsville,Ga is looking up at the stars, because we are in the country its so amazing to see all the beautiful stars. From now on when I look up I will pray for you and think of you CJ. I think the North star will be you, because it shines the brightest, just like you. God bless you. The Cookes

CeCe said...

Hey CJ! I am so sorry that I have not said anything to you in so long. I have not been on the computer in forever, because I was sick, and because all of are computers our either being really strange, or not working. I haven't even read the last post, hee hee. I miss you a lot! Hope to talk to you soon!.


Unknown said...

"CJ's Star" It has a beautiful sound and it is beautiful. The kids spend so much time on their backs in that unit and it is wonderful to look up and see the beautiful art. I know how Dawn feels when you think I don't want to have a tile, I don't want my son to be so special, I don't want... but then she gives in to the will of God and embraces what she must do.
Last week my husband Enzo had open heart surgery and one of his nurses has a son in the Joe DiMaggio group as well and when he mentioned that CJ was his grandson, she said, Oh everyone knows CJ. He is very popular. I met the older couple walking their dogs in the hall to see the heart patients and when I mentioned that CJ was my grandson their faces lit up and they told me how they are waiting for photos to come back of their dogs with CJ and how beautiful of a boy he is. Lotsy meant it when she said she would be a better clown after meeting CJ. I read her one of the poems he wrote on her visit to him and she went behind the curtain and cried. I was thinking we shouldn't make the clown cry but I couldn't resist reading his poem to her. I wanted her to have a glimpse inside the boy on the bed. Every where I go I hand out his bracelets and I always stuff the bag with a couple of his poems because I know the people need it in their lives and they will pray for CJ after reading it. Like the reporter said that did his interview it serves as a reminder that most peoples every day problems are just hurdles, just situations to handle and are fixed by the next day. I love CJ's star. I love CJ so much. I am so grateful to be his grandma.


CeCe said...

Hey CJ (again),

I have read this post finally. I am so glad that your star/tile is out in the open shinning down on everyone. I am so glad you were able to go to church and see everyone. I got SO exited. I miss you a lot. I hope to see you soon!


Anonymous said...


It is a truly beautiful star. And CJ believe me when I tell you that they help patients and family members in more ways than one. While we were in the pre-op room waiting for Ana to have her surgery, we talked about all the wall tiles in the hospital here. She relaxed.. I relaxed... we prayed and time passed quickly.

You are always in our thoughts and prayers

Love, Nicole, Alberto and Ana

Vanessa Marie Fernandez said...

Hi CJ and George family,

it was so wonderful to see you at church. I saw you walk in from the stage and I just wanted to rush down and hug you all. It helped me to praise God all the more passionately because I was reminded of His faithfulness, not only in my life, but in yours as well.

You are always in our prayers,


Alibrandi said...

Hey Bro,
It was great to go to church on Sunday as a family! It was so nice to see you with your friends again.
Your tile is amazing! Because I have seen it in person and have seen almost all the others I can truly say that I couldn't pick a prettier tile off that roof! I love you and am so blessed, to have you, Brett, and Corey as my brothers!
Love you,

Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn and family,
It was great to see you all at church last Sunday...even if it was from a distance. Please know that we continue to pray for you. God is faithful and we rejoice in His amazing love and care for you.
Love, The Medinas

Anonymous said...

Hi, CJ. How are you feeling today? It was really nice to see you this weekend, even if we can't get too close or hug you. You are looking good. You and your family are always in our prayers.
The Sedanos

Sonia said...

Hi CJ, beautiful star, just like you a beutiful child, it will be shinig on you with hope and love. We are waring your bracalets, so will keep thinking and praying for you every day. Lots of love,
Sonia, Antonio, Ale y Andrea

Anonymous said...

HI Guys,
Just checking in to see how Cj is doing? Praying for you.

Anonymous said...

This is truly amazing!!! CJ you are one special and bright STAR!!! You and your family continue to be in my prayers!

in God's Grace,
Stefanie Bartels and the rest of the Bartels family =)