Friday, March 6, 2009


This is the note I woke up to one morning early this week. CJ often leaves me notes to find in the morning. Most are filled with words of thanks for something or encouragement when he senses I am down. Some are filled with scripture and expressions of love. So you can imagine my surprise to wake up to the above note expressing quite passionately his hatred towards Cancer. My heart ached for him when I saw it because I knew he wrote that note after everyone was sound asleep and he was up all alone fighting against going to bed. He wasn't fighting sleep per se but fighting the fact that his hair is falling out again. He refused to lay his head on his pillow only to wake up and see it covered in hair in the morning. So he grabbed a blanket and set up camp on the recliner in the living room that night. Ironically, the blanket he grabbed and wrapped himself up in was covered in a poem that describes all the things cancer can not take from you. Things like Hope, Peace, Friendship, Love, Courage, Memories, and Eternal Life. I pointed this out to him and he said the only thing the author got right was the eternal life part. That made me laugh and think: at least he knows his theology!

The Blanket

We continued to urge him to come to bed and reminded him that his hair will fall out no matter where he sleeps. But he reasoned that he would not be able to see it on the recliner. Therefore, he stood his ground and settled in for the night. After trying everything to coax him into his bed, we finally had no choice but to go to sleep and leave him there frustrated and sad. It was hard to leave but I learned my lesson last week (see previous post) that sometimes I just need to get out of the way and let God do His work in CJ's heart.
As much as I hated leaving him there in his grief, I knew I was not leaving him there alone. I knew that God, who loves my boy more than I can possibly attempt to, was there with him. No, he was not safely tucked in his bed, but he was safely tucked in the shadow of the Most High God. I am not exactly sure what transpired, but I assume it was a good fight since I woke up to the above note on the counter and him sound asleep in his bed. I figured that he decided to give in but not without one final stand, thus the note before surrendering to his bed.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust".......Because he loves me, says the Lord " I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
(Psalm 91:1-2, 14-16)

When he awoke the next morning, he was all smiles. I thanked him (sarcastically) for the beautiful letter he left me and this brought a huge grin to his face as if suddenly remembering what he had written.

Interestingly, his hair did fall out a lot that night. But it fell out in a manner that evened out all his uneven new growth. It was softer and thinner and lighter and really did look better. Even he agreed! His hair continued to fall out over the the course of the week but he has not complained about it once since that night. So whatever took place in the living room in the wee hours of the night must have been good! Oh, what I would give to be a fly on the wall of his heart during these times of turmoil!

Today, CJ had his appointment for blood counts. We had a short visit with the doctor and determined that CJ has neurotoxisity from the Vincristine (also called Neuropathy). This is caused when damage occurs to the nerve endings. Although unwelcome, it is a common side effect to the medicine he is on. The negative side to this is that he has trouble walking properly. He is still able to walk but it is awkward as his hips don't rotate properly and his legs just don't seem to work right. I don't really know how to explain it. This began gradually and increased quickly over the past two days. The positive side to this is that he does not seem to be in any pain and it is reversible with time. Since he is not receiving chemo for another week the doctors said to just continue to watch him and allow him to do whatever he is comfortable doing. We will continue to keep an eye on it as it progresses or, preferably, regresses.

CJ is due to go back next Friday for an overnight admission. This admission will include a spinal tap and various medicines that require him to be monitored overnight as he receives them. It will also be followed up by home health chemotherapy just like in the beginning.

Furthermore, we are half way to the end of this phase. Today is day 28 of a 48 day phase. Thank you Lord for bringing us to this point and for sustaining CJ. We surrender the remainder of this phase to You and ask for Your guidance and healing to be constant.

Prayer Requests:
Please pray that this Neuropathy reverses with no lasting effects. Please pray that CJ's counts (CBC's) will continue to stay strong even as the medicines attack his blood cells. Most importantly, please pray that CJ will continue to draw near to God for strength and comfort. That He would see God's loving hand guiding him every step of the way.

CJ giving blood


Unknown said...

Grandma Paula here. I am going to pray for my boy. I'll write later. When you see the note in CJ's writing it is so powerful. God is flooding my brain with how powerful His word is and how much he loves our little guy and all about His promises to us but sometimes the pain of the moment is so strong you resist letting them in.


Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

We went to Orlando yesterday and as we always do at the end of the day went to eat at our favorite restaurant in the Mall. I have eaten in that restaurant a dozen times yet can not tell you what it is called. But last night, for the first time I looked up at the name... BRIO!! I couldn't help but smile to myself thinking of Cj and then I whispered to myself I hate Cancer!!! Imagine how I felt reading your post.
We are thinking and praying for you,
Nicole Ana Alberto

Anonymous said...

Dearest CJ...You're halfway through!! Hurray...i have to admit were able to write and say what every other cancer patient refuses to admit to themselves.. I HATE CANCER!!!!!! I am so glad that you wrote that for all the survivors out there and I want to thank you for saying it in big bold letters!! Just think we are almost there and soon you will have all this CANCER stuff behind you!!
Love Aunt Penny

Anonymous said...


I know I've said this before, but THANK YOU for continuing to keep us updated on CJs condition and all that he and your family are going through. It's so helpful when we pray to know a little bit of what you are experiencing so we can pray more specifically. My heart goes out to you as a mom, but I'm encouraged as well to see how you continue to entrust CJ to the Lord. We love you and continue to pray for each of you as you walk through this trial. Thank God you are not walking it alone, but recognize that He is with you each step of the way.

Desiree Pino

Anonymous said...

CJ I also HATE cancer. But remember that it cannot rob you of your many other gifts that the Lord has blessed you with. Yes, it may be hard to see your hair fall off but remember that the Lord will replace it with even better hair. I know it is hard for you to understand because it is very hard for me, and I am not the one going through this. Just remember that cancer CANNOT rob you of anything. The Lord is with you at all times. Just remember those foot prints on the sand....they are HIS, as he carries you each and every day of your life with and without cancer. Buddy cancer cannot rob you of how wonderful you are. You are an AWESOME example of a very strong child of GOD.
I love you and cancer CANNOT rob you of that.

the Grays said...

I hate cancer too. I haven't experienced it firsthand like you but I have seen it too many times in my friends and family. Just remember, as much a you hate cancer, God loves you even more than that. His love is stronger and deeper than anything you are feeling and the best news is that His love is directed toward YOU! We will continue to pray for you and your family. Stay strong!

Anonymous said...


Praying for you. Half way there! That is huge! Stay strong my friend. -Derek

Anonymous said...

C.J. it is really hard to see how you can be affected by certain things as you deal with cancer. But what I love is seeing how you listen to Gods spirit and you listen to the truth from him. Yes you might get upset and frustrated, but left alone with your thoughts you allow his spirit to reassure you and give you his knowledge and wisdom for your situation.I have told you this before, I will say it again, there is so much to learn from you C.J. your trust in God, your courage, strength and a very loving heart. I love you buddy. I HATE CANCER TOO!!!!!!!!!!>>>>>>> Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit drys up the bones.

Anonymous said...

We love you and miss you! You are brave and strong because the Lord Jesus lives within your heart! We're sorry it's one of the rough periods for you right now with the chemo, and we're glad it's half way over. We wish we could take the cancer away, because we hate it, too. Thank you for being so honest about how you feel - we know it helps other people! You are blessing from God, CJ, to many, many people! Love, Uncle Terry and Aunt Karen

Lonny Unverzagt said...

Hi CJ,My name is Lonny Unverzagt.I live in Brighton , Illinois I am friends with your Grandma & Grandpa Alibrandi. I know first hand how powerful God is. My family prays for you everynight and at our Church. Take care Bud. Lonny, Sonya,& Levi Unverzagt

Anonymous said...

I hate cancer too! CJ is so brave and strong! I know he doesn't want to be, but, he IS! Dawn, Thank you for the update and prayer requests. Your post with the pictures are so powerful and moving. Sometimes, I begin to read your blog post in a certain, uptight, everday-tense, type of mood, and then I begin to melt. I feel my heart melt and the tension in my body leave while I am absorbing what you guys have to experience and endure. And I catch myself realizing I was focused on the wrong stuff, again! My own little vain world, where I put such power into things that really don't matter or should be bringing me joy, not tension. Thank you for being such a postiive, God seeking influence in my life. I am sorry it takes such a sad situation for me to regain focus. I love you guys and will pray for your requests.
Love you,

Break the Mold said...

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to tell you all how much the comments mean to us. We love reading them. They are a blessing and encouragement to each of us. So often, I read one and it is just what I needed to hear at that moment. Every time I read one I have to resist the temptation to write something back to each and everyone one. For someone who loves to write that takes great restraint on my part! Obviously, I couldn't resist this time...

I was so moved by your comment and how the thought 'I hate cancer' came to you before you read the post. I know that is God. It is how His Spirit works and moves to tune us all in to the same station so we can be powerful and effective in prayer and intercession. A wonderful woman of faith and a dear friend once woke up to the word 'normal' in her head and began praying. Not really understanding why it was there but being faithful in prayer anyway. Later that morning, she sat down and my post was titled "What is Normal". It was what I was struggling with at the time and I know God was using her to intercede for me. As you shared your thought of 'I Hate Cancer' God showed me His presence and constant care for us once again. It is not co-incidence but God-incidence. Thank you for sharing that with us and for being faithful in prayer for CJ. Give Anastasia and big hug from all of us. Next time I am in Gainsville we will all go to BRIO together!

Lonny and Sonya,

I just wanted to say thank you for commenting. It is great to hear from new people that are out there praying that we don't even know about. Sometimes, when I wonder why God called me to do this blog or I begin to question it, He will use a comment like yours or a testimony someone shares to encourage me to press on in faith. He reminds me that I don't need to know and see all He is doing, I just need to be faithful and do it. But every now and then, He rewards my constant nosiness with a little glimpse into His vision. It gives me hope and strength to press on. You were that glimpse today.
We are indebted to you for your prayers for our son. Please know they are powerful and effective and are availing much in our family. Thank you!
The Georges

Great to see you here. CJ loves and misses you too and can't wait to see you again. We just saw some pictures of you and Amy recently taken at Heather's house. You make a beautiful couple! And of course CJ knows Amy. He was in a wedding with her too!


What can I say my anonymous friend. You have been a great encouragement to me (us). I can see why God has asked you to remain anonymous in your posting. He has used your words to encourage us directly with His. Thank you for sharing whatever is on your heart and mind at the time. I am encouraged that you don't limit yourself to time or circumstance or posts but just share each time you feel lead. Thank you for your words and prayers for CJ.

A big thank you to all who meet here. We are united in our love for God, our love for CJ, and our love for each other. It is my hope and prayer that someday in the future we will all be able to say we were a part of something great. We watched God heal a little boy of cancer. And furthermore, although He does not need us, we were a part of that healing because He used our love, prayers, tears and our faith in combination with His will to do so.
Love to all,
Dawn and
The George Family

It is my deep hope and prayer that as you have comforted me in this trial, God will use me to comfort others as I have been comforted. When I reach out to someone who is suffering, all of you will be a part of the love and compassion I will be able to offer. Just imagine how far your love will reach as it keeps getting passed on and on from one sufferer turned to comforter after another!

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Anonymous said...

Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere my name, the son of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings and you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Praise God!!!!! can't wait for the day when the George family can do this. What fun, praising jesus and running and jumping for joy. You are lifted in pray to our loving FATHER

Anonymous said...

Dear CJ,

I just read your blog and my heart is sorry for you sweet one. I know this seems so hard right now and I know your battle will remain a part of you forever, but soon this will all be faded memories that will not consume so many of your thoughts ever day. What will be left is a very strong couragous young man that will be able to face any life challenge that may come his way. Keep fighting WARRIOR and I'll keep praying.
Kristi, Bill and the twins

Anonymous said...

CJ, you're a special young man. I will be praying for you, knowing from the depth of my heart that all of our prayers will be answered. God Bless you and your family.

Tammi said...

I HATE CANCER, TOO. BUT I LOVE YOU AND I LOVE YOU AND I LOVE YOU. I'm sorry about your hair, but your hair is going to grow back. I'm sorry your legs aren't working right because or your hips, but they are going to work right again soon. I'm sorry you are feeling bad sometimes, but you are going to feel better again soon. I love you CJ. I try to call you sometimes, but I don't get ahold of you, but I just want to make sure you know that I try to call you just because I want to say "Hi" and tell you that I love you. I love you so much, CJ. So Much. xoxoxoxoxox
Aunt Tammi

Anonymous said...

I hate cancer too!! And I hate that you have to have it for now..but God loves you, so cry out to Jesus! Let Him soothe your soul,let Him be your comfort and strength, Let Him restore your soul. But never stop believing, and never give up. You are half-way there CJ..we love you and continue to pray for you..Psalms 130:1-2 " Lord I cry out to you because I'm suffering, so deeply. Lord, listen to me. Pay attention to my cry for your favor." This is from Rachel's bible NIrV The Cookes

Anonymous said...

My heart has been crying for days. I read the blog and can relate to the Neuropathy. I was diagnosed with Neuropathy back in 2003 and have seen many Neurolgist and even a specialist at the University of Miami. Several months back I even went to a higher power and had my legs blessed and know that thru my Daughters daily prayers ( she is 12) that I will one day live a pain free life. CJ you are a blessed child to have the support of family and friends to be with you on a daily basis to support you. I know how the pain can sometimes make you feel alone and we both know that we have the comfort of the Lord to shelter and guide us. CJ I wish I could take your pain from you and hold you and we could comfort each others pain. There is not a day that I do not open my eyes in the morning and pray for a pain free day and every morning I pray the same for you, The Lord will free us both of pain and we will look back on this blog as an amazing time in our lives. You are amazing and let the Lord know anytime you feel the pain and the hate of the disease and spend the quality time with just him and he will comfort the pain and get you the comfort you need.

Anonymous said...

CJ, My name is Jean Mosley, I want to let you know how much I admire you and your strength. I am praying for you as well is my youth group at my church. Stay strong CJ and continue to lean on the Lord and He will get you thru this hard time in your life. You are a very blessed to have a family like you have that love you and stand beside you. Never forget that God is always there with you. You are in my prayers sweet boy.

Anonymous said...

Poppa Jerry has officially changed his name to Mister Motzaball! It seems lately that every other visit comes with a large pot of motzaball soup. Now, I know that it's not your cup of tea, but your sister, mom, and dad are fans.. . I'm not quite sure of Brett, but I hear your Grandma Paula has been known to steal a bowl here and there.
My beautiful grandson -every time I see you - you just break my heart! I don't show you it when we're together, but each time I leave your house, God speaks to my heart and I pray all the way home
And in that moment I too, am filled with hate for this awful cancer that has tried to steal you from us. But I know that through prayer, and through this blog that touches people from all over the world, you will be healed.
Grandson, they are praying for you now in Israel. Last week two Rabbis, believers in Yeshua, were visiting from Isreal and heard our prayers for you at our Shabot service. They have since traveled home to share with believers in Israel to pray for you. How really marvelous!
I paused for while writing this comment and went to a bible study tonite. Tonite is Purim. Purim is the holiday you read about in the book of Esther - where the Jewish people were saved from eradication, due to the wicked works of Haman, by the efforts of the beautiful Queen Esther and her cousin Mordecai. They were, as the story tells, able to change the heart and mind of King Ahasuaerus and save the Jews.
What is unusual about this book of the bible is that not once is God mentioned - not once. Yet throughout the story you are aware of His presence and His power to change things - no matter how bleek or terrible they may seem.
So, now I am back writing this to you and God speaks to me telling me that His presence is ever with my grandson CJ and my daughter's family. Saving you. Healing you. Loving you.

Good nite, my beautiful grandson and Happy birthday my beautiful Alibrandi! I love you.
Mister Motzaball
(Alias, Poppa Jerry)

Anonymous said...

I love you CJ!
Thanks for all your help tricking your sister...or trying too...hehe
Praying for you friend~


Anonymous said...

As for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work wii be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>I say praise God for all the comforting words that we find in his Holy Words. Stay strong, finish your race without giving up C.J. and God will surely, surely reward you. I know this because God says so,and I believe him. Praying tomorrow will go well, counts will be good, and that our amazing loving Savior will continue to intecede on your behalf, and keep all body organs safe!!!!. You are always being lifted in prayer.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn and CJ,

My family and I pray for CJ everyday. We will continue to pray for complete remission.

With Love

Martha Rivero