Friday, October 17, 2008

Remission Already?

We are steadily coming to the end of CJ's induction month. At that time, they will re-scan his body and check his spinal fluids. That began today with a spinal tap and intrathecal injection. Then Monday they proceed with full body scans to see if he is in remission. Remission? Surprised to hear that word already? So was I! From what I understand at this point, the goal of the first induction phase of chemo is to put the patient into remission as quickly as possible. Meaning, they want (and expect) to see no, or minimal, signs of the tumors on the scans and spinal tap. That surprised me as 'remission' was not a word I expected to hear until towards the end of the two years of treatment. I always thought that when you heard "you are in remission" then you were 'all healed' with no signs of cancer. And it is true...there are no signs of disease when you are in remission. Actually I looked it up and this is what it says...

remission: A decrease in, or disappearance of, signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs or symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs or symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although there still may be cancer in the body.

I know I should be rejoicing at this news but at the end of this first month I was so hoping to hear,"Wow, the tumors are all gone and you can take him home now, IT'S A MIRACLE." But now I find that what I was hoping and praying for is what was expected all along. So this leads me to ponder two serious questions. One is.....will it still be a miracle if the scans come back clear? And the second, why do we continue to do chemo for 2 years and risk all the toxicity it can cause if the cancer is gone?
I will answer the second question first.
The reality is that even if the scans are clear the tumors could be "hiding out" somewhere in the body and not show on the scans or they can just come back and even stronger. Think of how a cold or infection reacts when you quit the antibiotics before you complete the regimen because you feel all better and have no signs of the cold anymore. It just builds up resistance and comes back stronger than before. That is a pitiful but easy to understand example of why we have two years of chemo even though the tumor cells may appear to be wiped out in the first month. And of course the main reason is all based on years of research on other kids who have walked the halls of oncology units years before CJ.

The hard part is that when I walk these same halls now, the kids in the other beds do not look like CJ. They look like you expect cancer patients to look; skinny, pale, sick, bald, sometimes even lifeless. And my heart aches for them and for CJ because I know we are only in month one and they are way ahead of us in this battle. I can't help but wonder when I see them, "Is that what is to come? Why? Why do we have to destroy his body if the tumors may be gone after the first month?" I really struggled with this all week and then I realized I was struggling with this decision way too soon. I realized I don't even know if the scans will be clear yet so I am getting way ahead of myself. We now know that the scans are set for Monday. So we ask you to pray for clear scans. For remission. Full remission. Miraculous remission. Yes, I said miraculous! And that answers the first question. We want to thank our pastor and his wife for their counsel and reminder that God's miracles come in all forms. From the supernatural to the traditional. If CJ is cancer free we will rejoice and give glory to God, not to chemo! We will give glory to His provision of the doctors and the chemotherapy.

Today the doctor briefly went over with us the 'road map' of the next two years. In five minutes he told us what the next two years of our lives will look like including various hospital admissions, out patient treatments, office visits and home health. And then told us each step would be 'count dependent' which basically means that starting each phase is all dependent on his blood counts at the time. As I listened my stomach ached and my heart beat faster. I kept thinking if someone told me what the next two years of my life would like under normal circumstances it would be strange and unsettling. Under these circumstances, it is downright overwhelming. In those moments it is tempting to want to cling to the christian cliche "God will never give you more than you can handle," but no matter how hard I look I don't see that in scripture. But what I do see is a God I can cry out to in those times. Psalm 55:5 says "Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me," but it goes on to remind me in verse 22: to "cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you." So that is where we find ourselves. Casting our cares and concerns and questions upon Him. "O Lord, our strength and our fortress, our refuge in times of distress."

These days I don't have to look too far to see that lived out right before my eyes. I take my example from CJ. We went in for his spinal tap between the space of the last paragraph and this one. He was sedated for the procedure and as he was falling asleep he kept saying I love you mommy, I love you daddy. Then, as his eyes got heavier and heavier and he was becoming more and more unaware of his surroundings he said, I love you mom, I love you dad, I love you God. And he kept saying it. Then he said in barely a whisper and mumble..." I love you God, I know you love me, I know I have cancer but cancer doesn't have me." He doesn't even remember saying it. Chris and I just looked at each other. During the procedure, I prayed that God would be with him and that CJ would be comforted by His presence and reassured of His love. Then before he even came out of the sedation he started mumbling, "I love you mom, I love you dad, I love God." In his sleep! I just stood there dumbfounded thinking what an amazing little boy. I could actually feel God's pleasure as I stood there and watched and listened. I knew God was with Him. I could feel it. And then God confirms it for me in a simple comment by the anaesthesiologist. He says to the doctor, "For what it's worth, I have never had a patient whose blood pressure stayed completely the same during a procedure, never, not once." And I just smiled inside and said, thank you Lord, because that small detail confirmed for me that God answered, and was with him, and CJ was comforted by it.

Thank you for your prayers for CJ's C-B-C's. The bracelets must be a good reminder! His counts are good! We are so grateful and we thank you and praise God for that! We are asking for prayer over the weekend for clear scans on Monday! Full remission! Complete and permanent remission! Beseech God with us! And may He receive the glory!


Unknown said...

It's so amazing to see how God has been preparing each of you for every step of this journey, and even now, CJ, Dawn, Chris, Allie, Brett, and even guys are STILL being prepared for what's to come and you must STILL remember to look BACK first, and then look FORWARD in light of what Christ has already accomplished for us on the cross.

What an example CJ is to all of us. My desperate prayer is that ALL of us would have the faith and love towards God no matter if we're going through GOOD OR BAD!!! Thank you CJ for once again being an example and a picture of what we should be more like.

I love you guys sooo much... my heart breaks with yours, my mouth sings with yours of the testimonies of God's grace, my eyes look with yours into the past first, and then into the future with new eyes of faith.

~Melinda p

"Every morning that breaks, there are mercies anew, Every step that I take is your faithfulness proved, and at the end of each day when my labors are through, i will sing of your mercies anew!"

Anonymous said...

There are so many things to be thankful for and you know what? I think CJ is not missing one of them...I really think that God has open his eyes to see the works of His hands in a much deeper way than some of us, like in the paragraph of 1Corinthian 13 about love that says that "we in part see" well I think he sees a lot more than us, another part of the mirror has been unvailed for him...

Anyways, we will certainly keep praying for the scans on Monday and just for a fresh sense of comunion with Him...
We Love you and miss you :)

CJ, Thank you for allowing us to see the tenderness and proximity of God in this circumstances, I know you have no doubt of His presence and doing, and that my friend makes our faith stronger.

Love Claudia for the Abeggs

ISAIAH 40:28b-31
The Lord is the everelasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.
he will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strengh to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strengh.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Anonymous said...

I echo Mindy's sentiments above...what an example you are to all of us CJ! Thank you for loving and honoring God in the midst of your circumstances! With each blog post I read, your faith spurs me on more and more to trust God with all my heart, regardless of what I'm going through. And to cry out to Him in the midst of my struggles, not just try and 'fix it' myself...

Dawn, I still remember the moms sitting around and talking about facebook and how you were starting this blog...I know you've mentioned it before, but God was just reminding me of what His purpose was...He knew before you guys did how He'd be using the blog, and you were faithful to submit to your husband's lead and in so doing submitting to the heavenly father's authority and went with the blog instead of facebook...thank you AGAIN for your example to me my friend! The Lord brought this scripture to mind, may it encourage you as it does me!!!

1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Becky for the Gonzalez Gang

Heather said...

As I sat outside watching the most beautiful colored leaves fall from the trees like a slow soft rain, I thought to my self I love the fall season. Then my thoughts wondered to Ecclesiastes 3:1

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under the heaven:

I pray that this season is not long. I also know that it is in the midst of the seasons that sometimes we grow and learn so much. It is more then evident in your blogs that that is exactly what is happening. Not just with you, but hopefully with everyone reading this blog. I know going thru my own season I can honestly look back and say I would not change one thing. I may not understand why it was allowed to happen but it brought me back to My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that in itself was worth going thru my season. I pray for you all that when this season comes to an end, that you too will be able to look back and feel the same way. And that when you do look back, Gods many answered prayers & blessings will be fresh, and that all the difficult painful times will be faded.
I love you all so very much

My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord---that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
James 5:10-11

Anonymous said...


Thank you once again for taking the time to post, especially since you mentioned in your last comment to me that it is not an easy thing to do. I wanted to thank you because I got up first thing this morning as I do most mornings and checked the email to see if there was an update. This time turns in to a devotion time for me as I have mentioned before. The blog with your scripture lead words leads me to the next step in my day and makes me want to seek God even more, be it for prayer time and/or more reading. Anyway, today it lead me to want to respond. This is my first chance without the baby. I read some things by Oswald Chambers today I wanted to share with you. On October 13th in the "Utmost for His Highest" Chambers ends with "If you are going through a time of discouragemnet, there is a time of great personal growth ahead." He also speaks of true Missionary work on the 14th and it reminded me of what you are doing through the blog. Jesus says, "Go on the basis of the revealed truth of My sovereignty teaching and preaching out of your living experience of Me". That is another reason why I am so grateful for your sharing at such a trying time. You are using your life experience to reach us, some who have fallen, some who were lost, some who needed to grow in their own faith. And to the rest of us, We must go to God as His child, because only a child gets his prayers answered...(Matthew 11:25) Prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are, says Chambers. And He promises, "Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do...(14:13). Lastly, Chambers says that when you labor at prayer, from God's perspective there are always results! So my dear sister, I pray and will pray again! I pray for CJ's healing and comfort. I pray that others and myself continue to grow and learn and change our ways never willing to return to our old ways! I love you, sis,


Anonymous said...

We love you all and continue to lift you up in our prayers. Looking forward to hearing more of what God is doing in your lives.
The Grays

Unknown said...

Wow!!I just read your whole entire story. I went through a lot of different emotions. My heart goes out to your family and I will definately start praying for a full healing. I believe that the Lord already did the miracle but he has not fully shown it yet because he is using this to bring lots of souls to HIM!! CJ is an amazing boy & I just met him, but he touched me greatly. Especially cuz I have an 8 year old boy and also a 14 yr old son and a 3 yr old daughter. So as a mother, my heart goes out to you. Keep up the FAITH! He is the only one that can give you strength and guide you through this road that he has placed in your lives!! But don't be dismayed cause everything will be okay. God is on your side the whole step of the way. It was great meeting you all!! God Bless You! I will pray for you and ask for prayer in my church.. I will keep checking for new updates. Good Night!

Anonymous said...


We will all be praying extra extra hard for clear results. Ana and I will also say a special prayer in church Monday morning before going to school.

Much Love,

Nicole Alberto and Ana

Anonymous said...

Your blog today reminded me of my mom who had breast cancer over 20 years ago. She had a doctor who was not a believer, but God used her, throughout the longs months of treatment, to open his eyes and he got saved. I know the Lord has you, C.J. in His hands and He is carrying you every step of the way. He also seems to have a plan to carry you into the lives of many people who you would not normally have contact with. The world is watching and you are doing an amazing job showing them what it means to have a God who cares for us even in the midst of our trials. We miss you very much, and continue to pray for you and continue to be blessed by your example.

Mrs. Pino

Unknown said...

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this very personal journey with all of us---friends, family, even strangers you've never met. I'm in the stranger category, yet spiritually, I'm a sister in Christ. I learned about CJ through a prayer chain and have been praying for him and for you all ever since. This blog has become part of my devotion time. I sit in awe of God and how He will use what we perceive as "bad news" to bring the "Good News" to a lost, blind, and hurting people. CJ is such an inspiration to me of faith in action. I'm not gifted in words to convey how infinitely this blog has changed my life---but just know there are people praying on a daily basis, Aaron's and Ur's, holding up your arm's when you grow weary or tired. The battle belongs to the Lord and to Him be the glory!

Alibrandi said...

Buddy you have been taking this so well and have been a great example to me! I love you very much and want you to know that I am here by you side every step of the way!

You are such an amazing writer and have kept so many people updated through the blog and I want you to know that even though I talk to you and Cj, and Daddy every day, I love to read what's going on through the blog! Thank you so much!

I love you both,

Anonymous said...


Its now Monday and I know your at the hospital for the remainder of the scans. I prayed all night for good results.

It is amazing how CJ goes under and wakes up speaking with God. I bet if you could hear the conversation while he is under at God is speaking with him, soothing him, keeping the blood pressure balanced and preparing him for what is to come.

Dawn, your Doctor gave you the road map for CJ's next two years in medicine and treatments but you have to remember that God's road map is also prepared for all of you and while it may run parallel with CJ's treatment you will have many blessings, much growth and your life will continue as His road map says.
Try not to worry too much for the future now. I pray for all those children you see in the hallways that look so sick but we know they are getting well. I worry even though I'm telling you not to but I guess that is what a Mom does. If we worry about that today though we may not have enough time to rejoice for all the victories CJ has had so far, for all the blessings God is giving you and your family, for all the friends and support you have, for all the strangers all over the world praying for your son.

Yesterday, when I came to bring Alibrandi home and when you all stopped by for some fresh air with CJ, I realized how in sync all of you are. You are such a wonderful family unit. When Allie slept over even though we had a great time she couldn't go to sleep as she was thinking about CJ and missing him. I think because of what you are going through you are going to be even stronger, closer and have a bond that never loosens. Even during the unimaginable God is blessing your family and you are strengthened by Him.

I love you guys so much.

Grandma Paula

Anonymous said...

The children in my daughter's 2nd grade class at Queen of Peace in Indiana have been praying diligently for CJ, specifically as you ask on your blog. We would love to have 22 bracelets if we could for these kids. They feel so close to him and he has been such an example of faith for them! This will be a tangible reminder to pray for CJ throughout the day and not just together as a class.

Demi Gibson

Anonymous said...

Your son is in my prayers, I cannot imagine what you must go through on a dialy basis. I have been watching from afar through the Cobra community. Keep fighting.

Craig Rednour

Anonymous said...

I found CJ through Finishline and the Cobra community. If you ever make it out to Colorado please look me up and we can see if the Denver area Cobras can get together and meet/drive with you. CJ could be my co-pilot any time!
Brandon Murphy

Anonymous said...

Dear Dawnie & Chris: I've read this 100 times and it warms my heart so much to see that your little boy already understands the way to beat his cancer...."Then he said in barely a whisper and mumble..." I love you God, I know you love me, I know I have cancer but cancer doesn't have me." Thank God that his mind and heart is so anchored that he understands the bigger things in life, God's love and the way that your mind controls your body. Give him lots of kisses from us.
Love Aunt Penny, Uncle Migel & Mikey

Anonymous said...

Once again....I am speechless. God is Awesome and He amazes me the way He works. We don't even notice the way he moves in us and how he uses us. Having "CJ" in the spot light opens up my eyes......How we just take life for granted. When ever I speak about CJ I always say the same thing God is using him and his family. They are very special. Dawn and Chris once again I tell you, even though you may not see it, you guys are very special and are doing an incredible job. Keep trusting the Lord with all your heart.

CJ said...

To everyone,
Thank you all for posting comments. They really cheer me up. I would also like to thank you for all your prayers.It is great to see so many people care. I am putting up a post with my mom tonight.I hope you like it.
From your brother in Christ