Thursday, March 4, 2010


We have been grounded! We are not setting sail today (Weds) as planned. CJ's counts have plummeted to a new low we have never experienced before and he is currently in isolation at home.

His ANC is 59. That is below 100 and too close to zero as far as I am concerned. For those new to this blog, the ANC is his absolute neutrophil count and is calculated using his white blood cells and other factors in his blood. His white blood cells are what is causing this plummet in counts. We have been assured by the doctors that this is caused by the chemo and not anything else. The white blood cells are an important factor in our ability to protect and fight infection.

As a result, we have held all daily chemo and will wait for the counts to rebound. We are expecting and hoping that this will happen rather quickly. However, there may be a delayed effect in the chemo he received last Friday so we are not at all sure how this will all balance out.

Unfortunately, this all led to the last minute cancellation of the cruise I mentioned in the last post. What I did not mention however was that this cruise was a generous gift from a woman who God has strategically placed in our lives for such a time as this. She is affiliated with the cruise line and she and her affiliates have orchestrated the entire trip to bless our family. I can't wait to tell you more about her and how the Lord is using her in the lives of children battling cancer, but that will have to wait until I have her permission to share further.

For now, let me say that this woman is an obvious instrument of God who has been appointed to be a blessing to His people and suffering children. I say 'obvious' because about a month ago I was desperate to be reminded that God was in complete control of what felt like seemingly out of control circumstances. Intellectually, I knew it to be true but I needed (selfishly wanted) to see His hand at work in a way that could not be denied or explained away. The reality was that my spirit was at anguish within me and I was thirsting for Him, yet unable to drag my pitiful self to the well to drink the living water He was offering. I was spiritually dehydrating and I felt it. I cried out to Him.

To make a long story short and only confuse you more lets just say He broke down a brand new car and that had otherwise no car troubles and placed this woman in the direct path of a family we had been helping, who also happened to be in desperate need of work of God. (Most of you know sweet four year old Mackenzie. If not read her story on our site and then visit her site and pray for her as she is at MD Anderson this week getting a second opinion and hopefully a treatment plan) When Mackenzie's mom called to tell me the story of meeting this woman under these circumstances, I cried and thanked God for His faithfulness. She could not have known how desperately I needed to hear it and that He did this not only to remind her He is in control but to also remind me. His kindness is unfathomable and knows no bounds!

God's presence and hand behind this sequence of events could not have been more obvious had He reached out of heaven and disable the car with his bare hand. Even the strictest agnostic would have a hard time explaining this happenstance. It was amazing! I rehearse it in my mind daily as a reminder of how awesome He is.

So a month later we are planning a cruise for our family out of the generosity of this woman only to hit the unexpected road block of CJ's low blood counts and a last minute cancellation. Having to cancel was heartbreaking for everyone involved, especially CJ. He felt like it was all his fault that everyone was disappointed. After he shed some tears, we reminded him that we would not even be taking this cruise in the first place if it weren't for him. That seemed to helped put things in perspective. We had a quiet ride home and we each had some one on one time with the Lord in that silence.

CJ finished crying and as we were almost home he asked through sniffles if he could have a slushy. I immediately cringed inwardly! These are the moments I hate about cancer. I know it sounds absolutely absurd and you are probably thinking, 'what is the big deal about a slushy?' Well, since you asked I will tell you. He was just dealt the blow that the cruise was off and he would have to stay home isolated from friends and extended family. The last thing we want to do is say no to something a simple as a slushy but we both knew he could not have a slushy from one of those machines. With his counts that low it is too risky for him to be exposed to some bacteria in the machine and not be able to fight it off. I know it sounds pathetic, but sometimes a simple slushy can put you over the edge. When he said it all you heard was silence in the car. I think we were all hoping he would think we didn't hear him and then forget about it. I certainly wasn't going to answer. I figured Chris was thinking the same thing I was and I was more than happy to let him be the one to say no this time. But believe me, Chris left ample room for me to have to answer so he certainly was thinking the same thing as me. Poor did he end up with such cowardly parents that can't even say a firm no to a slushy? I know it sounds ridiculous but thing kids with cancer and their siblings hear "no" more than you may think.

So I spent the morning I was supposed to be boarding a cruise ship trying to readjust to the fact that I am not on vacation and my brain was definitely lagging behind in the change of plans. I had no food in the fridge since I was supposed to be gone for a week, I couldn't go anywhere, and I needed to rethink my schedule now that I was home. I confess that I was still a little perturbed that we were not sipping coca cola with little umbrellas in it or whatever you do on a cruise, when I sat down to update this post and a message came in to the blog comments.

It was from a mom we met at the cancer camps we attended last year. We also had the opportunity to deliver a Thanksgiving Box (that one of you made) to her family for Thanksgiving. Her daughter Carina, age 12, was also diagnosed with Lymphoma right after CJ. The message relayed that she was in the maintenance phase of chemo, just like CJ is, when she had an unexpected relapse. Within 40 days of her relapse she left this life to be with the Lord.

I had the privilege of spending a couple hours on the phone with her mom this afternoon. I was hoping to support her and offer her some comfort and instead, God used her to minister to me and encourage me. She not only shared Carina with me in a way I will never forget but she shared her faith with me in a way that will change the course of my life forever.

At that moment, I was completely aware and understood why we were not in the middle of the ocean sailing to the Bahamas. There was work to be done in my heart and words to be shared between two moms who have watched their children battle cancer. I would not have rather been anywhere else on earth at that moment than on that phone crying and praying with this mom. What a blessing!

Once again, the Lord hears the struggles and frustrations of my heart and says, "Just attention... you will understand soon enough." I don't find it odd that one of the things this mom shared with me was to not question God in what seems like interruptions or delays. He is in complete control. This mother lost her daughter LESS THAN A MONTH AGO....Please hear that.... LESS THAN A MONTH AGO and she is encouraging me to not lose sight of Him and to trust Him. There is nothing more powerful than that.

Meanwhile, Poppa Enzo is back in the hospital today. He has a fever and an infection in the port which needs to be removed immediately. However, he is extremely weak and his counts are way down so any surgical procedure is risky. We are praying for a miracle and healing for him if you are willing please join us in that prayer! I just can't imagine my kids losing another poppa within months of losing their Poppa Jerry so tragically.

I am sorry this post is all over the board. It only demonstrates the state of our hearts and minds right now.... all over the place. From highs and lows to joys and sufferings. Such is life, but at the speed we are coming around each bend it is impossible to even catch our breaths.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Please lift up CJ for a boost in counts and that there is no relapse of cancer now or ever.
Please lift up Poppa Enzo for healing and strength.
Please remember to lift up sweet Mackenzie as the doctors reconsider her treatment options.
Please lift up Carina's family (the DaCosta Family) as they mourn her loss and cherish her memories.

I leave you with the words of Carina's mom....

" (As Christians) We raise our children for eternity. We raise them to spend eternity with the Lord. That is our focus. We raise them to be prepared to meet Him face to face. That is our greatest goal and hope for them. Why when they are there, do we dare say "send them back here". She is there. She is where I want to be. I will miss her until I get there."
She also said,

"Cancer did not take my daughter. The Lord took her home."

You have just witnessed profound faith my friends. If I am ever called to walk that road may I be found even a fraction that faithful!


gathering said...

Praying for all you have written. I'm sorry you missed the trip :-( and for all the junk that cancer brings. I am crying with you.

I for one am glad we're going to get new bodies,all things will be made new, and all tears will be wiped.

Thank you for sharing Carinas story and her moms words.What a tender heart, what faith, what courage.

Love you all,

Anonymous said...

We love you all sooooo much!!!! Thank you for sharing this with us. Cj, honey, we are praying so hard for you, your poppa and your family and friends with cancer! We miss you! Love, Aunt Karen and Uncle Terry

Shawn & Cara said...

We love you all and are so sorry to hear of all of the trials, challenges, and disappointments. I praise the Lord that we have a Saviour that is well aquainted with suffering. I pray the Holy Spirit is your source of comfort and peace during this time. We are praying for you all and are especially praying for CJ's counts and Enzo's healing and recovery. Lord, I ask that you do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. We love you guys!

Shawn & Cara

1 Peter 5:10
"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." AMEN!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the taking the time Dawn to keep us updated on CJ and the family, I am sorry to hear of the dissapointments this week but God had a different path for your family, Please CJ

Just sit back and close your eyese and open your heart , and you will feel all your woories and cares depart, Just yield yourself to the Father above and let him hold you secure in his love.

He hears every prayer,and answers each one
When we pray in his name ~ Thy will be done.
The burdens that seemed too hevy to bare
Are lifted away on the wings of prayer

Always remember Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.

And you have soooooo many prayers that you are spinning the world out of control.

We love you all and will you all the best and our prayers are with each and everyone of you. Cj just pray and the Lord will bring you as many slushy's as your heart desires

Ily Figueroa (Heartsyearbook) said...

Hey Dawn,
Sorry to hear you guys were not able to make the cruise. I am sure HE has bigger plans for you guys. I wanted to share this verse with you guys.
Joshua 1:9
"Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
We will continue to pray for Cj and all of you. Just keep your hearts focused on HIM!!!
Love ya,
ILY and the Gang

Unknown said...


I firmly believe that God is in control when we allow Him to be. And you clearly allow Him to be. You don't force your hand on HIS and I have learned so much from that. I pay attention to even small details in my daily walk that the Lord may be using to guide me certain ways..sometimes I ignore them, sometimes I listen. I try to listen and ask why He could be doing what He is doing. But, I have learned I will never fully know HIS reasons, just glimpes if I am lucky. I felt bad when I heard about CJ's counts, but confident that the Lord was and is protecting or using you for something else. I am glad you are so open to seeing HIM. You clearly had an encounter you would of not otherwise had.

Also, as I read about some of the struggles our family is going through and yet even fully processed. I think back to one of your very early posts. You prayed never to return to "normal". And I prayed that very same prayer. And boy, we sure haven't come close to that old "normal". And inspite everything happening and that has happened, I have learned so much and never once blamed God for the events that have unfolded around us and to our loved ones. I am thankful.



Amy Derrickson said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Dawn. My heart aches with all that your family is going through and the loss of your friend. Her testimony is amazing!
These verses in Ephesians keep coming to my attention, and they have been very encouraging to me. I hope you find them so as well.

Ephesians 3: 14-21
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.

Love you,