Saturday, March 17, 2018

Post 4th Round of PRRT Update...

-Post PRRT update:  We were reunited on Tuesday evening and boy does it feel good to all be under one roof again!!!  In case anyone is late to the party...  Andrew had his 4th round of radiation therapy and after he receives his treatment, he has to stay away from Grace and Abby for 6 days (that's why David and Andrew go to my In-Love's house in the Woodlands and pretty much live upstairs for most of the time... although they were on vacation this time when the boys were there).  During this time, we (grown up's) have to stay at least a meter away from him and avoid touching him for 3-4 days because he is highly radioactive and it is not safe to get to close to him because radiation has risks such as cancer, etc.  While we all missed each other terribly, it's especially hard on Abby and Andrew to be apart.  They want to spend every minute possible on FaceTime or the phone together, even if they aren't talking (sometimes I'm like... "ok, we will talk to you later..." because there is a lot of silence or they are each playing or watching tv and they are like "nooooo, do we have to get off already?"), they literally just love to know the other person is there/do life together in any way possible.  We have learned a lot over the past 4 rounds of PRRT, so each time we try to make modifications to the plan to make it as easy as possible on everyone.

Andrew getting a scan after treatment to make sure the radiation is being taken up appropriately

Andrew has had a great break from pain (except for one really bad morning in The Woodlands where Andrew was miserable and eventually threw up), so we are praying it continues for a looooong time! The reality is, if he follows the pattern of previous treatments, the pain should come on with a fury in a couple weeks and last for 3-4 weeks.  Will you please pray that Andrew could avoid the intense pain phase and we would just see an exceptional improvement in pain that is sustained?  Please also pray for wisdom for us and his Dr's, we are meeting in early April to discuss next steps.  At this point, it looks like Andrew's tumors are stable (praise the Lord)...  he has a follow up scan in 3 months and then 6 months to see how things are holding up.  If there is progression at that point, they can do 2 more rounds of PRRT.  Will you PLEASE pray for no progression what so ever and that we would get many years of stability... actually lets pray that his cancer stays stable forever because our God can absolutely do that?!?!

-Since being home, Andrew has been able to do "normal" kid fun stuff like playdates and even a sleepover (thanks to a sweet friend who never minds giving him meds throughout the night, even waking him up for his 3:30 am meds).  We went to the rodeo, one of our families most favorite things to do together!  Most people go to the rodeo for the concert (I think some guy named Chris Stapleton was playing the night we went), but we literally go for the actual rodeo and leave when the concert starts because we don't even know any of the artists who play there (except Garth, we do know who Garth Brooks is... LOL).
The Ross Family Circus!

Carnival rides with friends!

Grace with the ponies in the background (that was her favorite, second only to the piglets and the bull riding :-)

Love that David took this pic over his shoulder while walking so they didn't even know they were being photographed!

Nothing beats watching the rodeo with this kid...  here is Grace's reaction when a bull rider fell off the bull practically right out of the gate!

This is how we closed out the rodeo...  my boy fell asleep in my lap.  The people behind us said "you must have worn him out at the carnival all day..."  Nope...  that's just what a warrior taking a rest from battling the hell out of cancer looks like!

-Update on Abby...  we are so proud of her for making the ODP (Olympic Development Program) State team!  She loves soccer so much (it's her happy place) and works so incredibly hard, we are grateful she gets to experience accomplishing goals that she sets for herself.

Abby rockin' her zebra headband and logo on her wrist for her Bubba during her tournament last weekend!

-I'm loving my new role in the Oncology Division so far, but I don't love having to go out of town and be away from the family. I leave tomorrow after church for training in New York, please pray for our time a part.

-A few nights ago, I had tears as I shared with David how much it breaks my heart to hear Andrew talk about when he is a dad or when he is grown up, etc because there is a high likelihood that he may never have that opportunity and he would be SUCH AN AMAZING DADDY....  like SO AMAZING!!!  As David and I talked and prayed, I was once again reminded that God is the author of Andrew's story, so I can't give root to those fears and instead it is ok for me to dream right along with him (instead of fight back tears in the moments).  Wouldn't you know that as I got the mail today there is a letter from a Dr I didn't recognize from TCH....  I immediately thought "this must be from the genetic Dr that insisted on doing further genetic testing," despite the fact that our incredibly brilliant friend who has literally committed his life to better understanding/curing cancer has already looked at every protein on every strand of DNA in his tumors, never the less, since our friends work was considered "research" based verses clinical, they wanted to rerun their tests.  We were totally fine with that because we figure it never hurts to have a second look and in the event it helps them gain more information about Andrew's cancer that may help him and/or other patients down the road, it's totally worth it.  My heart was pounding out of my chest as I opened the envelope, I scanned the page for any scary information and at first the bolded section that caught my eye mentioned some mutations that I knew they were testing for and at first glance I thought it said they found those mutations in Andrew's tumor...  As I felt my heart pound so hard I could feel it in my ears, I decided to read the letter from the top and praise the Lord the bolded section said that they did NOT find any of these mutations (which means we don't need to have the rest of our family tested for this dreaded disease...  PRAISE THE LORD).  As I flipped to the second page and read on this sentence jumped off the page and melted my heart...  big time!!!

Please hear me clearly, I'm in no way saying this letter is prophetic, but it certainly serves as a reminder and huge hug from God that Andrew could absolutely have his own family some day if that is what God wills in His infinite wisdom and power!  That's what #hopeon is all about.  We will hope on with certainty that God alone is the author of our story and we trust His heart, even when we can't see or understand his hand.

-One more prayer request... as a result of Andrew's radiation treatment, his hemoglobin is low, so he gets more tired than normal and he gets out of breath easier (until it returns to normal).  He is suppose to start flag football and a swim clinic in preparation for Summer swim team, will you please pray that he excels in both of these areas...  that it builds his confidence instead of tear it down and remind him that he is different (has a hard time keeping up with other kids because of cancer)?


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Come Laugh and Cry Along With Us...

Please forgive us for the many weeks that have gone by without a post...  as you can imagine, our life literally never has a dull or boring moment.  I'm going to share some highlights with you from over the past month or so that I want to make sure I document, since in many ways this blog is like my own personal journal.

1)  Quick update on Andrew and Grace- Andrew's pain has been pretty intense for the past two weeks.  He has had to go to school late because he wakes up in terrible pain or come home early from school because the pain was so bad he was throwing up.  We are praying with every ounce of our being that it is just evidence of tumor death and not anything else.  Each time after PRRT, he goes through a time where there is a honeymoon period (pain isn't bad right after) and then it comes on with a fury for a couple weeks, the timing/interval in which this routine plays out is always different, so it's hard to anticipate.  Lord willing, we should start to see pain improvement now.  Will you please pray this is the case?  Also, Lord willing, his next round of PRRT is scheduled for March 8th, with scans on the 7th.  Will you please pray his scans on the 7th show no progression, a whole lot of regression, healthy kidneys, and we get the green light to move forward with his final round of PRRT on the 8th?

This picture says so much...  notice Andrew's face is bright red, that's evidence of a boy in insane pain...  pain that caused him to throw up just before this pic was taken.  Despite the red face, he smiles as he knows his little sissy (who also knows pain and suffering all to well) insists on snuggling him and loving on him while he attempts to sleep off the pain.

We have such a huge yearning in our hearts to see Andrew off of SUCH heavy duty pain meds or at least on a whole lot less of them because it's so hard not being able to remember his personality without being "on drugs." Andrew is super tender-hearted, loves to serve younger children, always looks for the kids that are "left out" or a little different and befriends them, and he loves his family fiercely.  All of these qualities remain in tact (praise the Lord), the things that make it hard to watch is when he seems manic (talks really fast and nonstop about whatever he is interested in at the moment...  it's usually something related to what his amazing imagination is dreaming up) and when he gets overly sensitive.  We know that his medication induced personality changes could be SO much worse, so we praise the Lord that it doesn't manifest in the form of aggression, etc, so we can absolutely endure, it just makes it hard to really connect with him at times because it feels like an unfamiliar (it's so out of character) and moving target.  It is especially hard on Abby to see his personality change and not know exactly how to manage it because that's her best friend whom she loves to pieces and just wants to love well, but it's not as easy as it used to be.  Also, Andrew is dealing with just feeling "different" at school because his life is so much different than all of the other kids (he is constantly faced with questions about his mortality, he misses a lot of school, when he is at school he is often times distracted by brutal pain, and he is trying to act as "normal" as possible, despite the fact that he's on medications that make him feel different and maybe act different, but he can't really control it).  It has broken our heart to hear him share how he sometimes feels lonely at school.  Andrew has always had a ton of friends and he still does, but there is no question that things have changed... even just as it relates to how much school he misses.  When he isn't there kids naturally develop new patterns of who they partner with in class or play with in his absence, so when he is at school, it's hard to jump back in as if he had not been gone. Not sure if that makes sense, it's just so hard to explain.  All that to say, will you please pray that Andrew can get off of heavy duty pain meds as soon as possible and not experience loneliness at school?

*Grace is doing much better...  those of you not on Facebook, Grace's INR level was more than double what it should be (putting her at a high risk for internal bleeding).  She was sucking on a sucker (it was her reward for being so brave during her blood test) and she somehow got a tiny cut on her tongue.  Her tongue literally bled for over 4 hours straight, so that in conjunction with her high INR warranted a trip to the ER.  We got her INR back down safely, but then it was too low (putting her at risk for a stroke), but by God's grace it is now within the right range and we hope we can stay there.

Bubba holding pressure on Grace's tongue for over an hour in the car!

She finally knocked out at the ER and the bleeding eventually stopped over 4 hours later!  We were grateful her and David were home by 3:30 am (before the big kids woke up... they hate when she's in the hospital).

More on Grace- so, you know she took the COGAT test this year (it was 3-4 hours a day for 3-4 days) and her teacher said she crushed it.  She stayed engaged during the whole test and was really thinking through the answers.  I thought that was a huge accomplishment that she took the test, so when we got the results back we were crazy proud of her and once again marveling at God's awesomeness.  In a couple of the sections Grace tested at a 2-3 year old level, but in the quantitative (math) section, she scored as a 6 year old (she's only 5 years old, has an extra chromosome, and has spent much of the first 2 years of her life intubated, sedated, and in the hospital). Now that's ALL God (working through her amazing teachers who love her like their own and set high goals for her because they truly believe in her) because let's be honest, it's not like we do a whole lot of therapy outside of what she gets at school (which is easy to feel guilty about) because we just don't have time for it with all the Dr's appointments we have with both Andrew and Grace, all of Abby's activities, work, etc.

Grace being both a cheerleader and coach at one of Abby's soccer games (she legit, has good coaching tips... "pass it, hustle, nice try..." :-)!

Grace has started her tap and ballet classes again, which she LOVES.  We are excited to watch her in the recital (Lord willing) because last year she didn't get to perform in the recital because she ended up having her 6th open heart surgery instead.  Another proud Grace moment, was when David was with her on a date at Ihop.  They were walking back from the bathroom and Grace did a double take at a table they were walking past, she excitedly proclaimed "that girl has Down Syndrome like me!"  We can't get over how cool it is that she can recognize homies with an extra chromie like her.  In our house we celebrate Down Syndrome and other special needs because it would be such a boring world without our special needs friends teaching us how to celebrate the big and small things in life and getting to see life through their eyes.  No joke, everything is way more magical when seen through Grace's eyes (even the most mundane tasks in life).

Can you find Grace in this pic?  Keep in mind that an extra chromosome usually leads to being extra flexible...  she's the second one in from the right ;-)

2)  David and I have found our new favorite place to work out!  It's called F45, it's in our neighborhood and it's owned by two amazing Christian families.  We had only been there a couple times when one of them asked me about what the meaning behind my Andrew's Army shirt meant and before I knew it they had created the coolest fundraiser for our family!  Last Saturday, they had 3 classes in the morning where everyone wore Andrew's Army shirts that were provided by the gym for a donation in return.  This little, brand new (has only been open for 2 months now) gym raised $2,000 for our family and we were blessed to witness a bunch of new and old friends pushing themselves to the max in honor of our boy.  What a blessing!  I walk away from these classes most every time more sore than I have been in years and it is the most fun and motivating workout environment you could imagine.  If you live anywhere near Sugar Land, please come try F45 in Greatwood!  You will love it, I promise!

One of the two super cool owners, Derek!  These guys have hearts of gold and are doing Kingdom business in that place!

One of the 3 classes that day!  I didn't get a pic of the class we participated in that day...  maybe we were seeing stars and about to pass out!  When David and I workout together, we are a little competitive ;-).

3)  One of my favorite ministries of all time, which the Lord has so generously allowed me to be a part of, is a girls bible study that we started 3 years ago.  Watching the Lord use these girls as He grows them in their faith is super cool!  Over the years, the Lord has put it on our hearts to help these girls become more prayerful people and to serve others sacrificially.  In a way only God can, He brought a special man into our lives to build community with and love well because he literally has no community, in fact he doesn't have any contact with the outside world.  In many ways, He is a prisoner in his home because of a stroke he had many years ago that left him wheelchair bound and only able to use one side of his body. All of his family lives in India.  We have made it a point to go to his house and plant flowers in his front yard, bring him Christmas gifts, play games, and above all share God's love with him.  He is Hindu, so he has told me about the 365 God's that he worships.  Despite the fact that we have different faith backgrounds, he absolutely LOVES the company and is always happy to have us pray over him.  This past Sunday we brought him some Valentine goodies, played bingo, and gave him his very own Bible.  We shared with him about how much Jesus loves him and all that He willingly gave up for him as evidence of that love.  Will you please pray that the Lord would bring our sweet friend to a saving faith in Christ and that God would be his ever present help and companion?

Helping our sweet friend get acquainted with his new bible!

Playing Bingo!

4)  We had been praying about finding the right counselor for the big kids (just someone to help them process their feelings as they endure this tough journey we are on) for over 6 months and I had emailed a number of people, but just hadn't found the right fit.  Well, in His perfect timing, He answered that prayer by leading us to a counselor that is literally a God send.  After only a handful of sessions, I feel like she knows my kids as if she had known them since birth.  They both LOVE going to see their counselor (and I love the couple minutes I get to chat with her after her sessions with the kids).  Initially, the kids weren't excited at all about seeing a counselor because they felt it was weird to talk to someone they don't even know, especially when they really just prefer talking to us.  We explained to them that their mommy and daddy are big fans of going to counseling before the wheels fall off.  We shared with them how we went to marriage counseling and retreats before we were married and continue to be proactive in making our marriage a priority.  They willingly, but fearfully agreed to go see the counselor once to see if they liked it.  We showed up to the kids first season to find the counselor waiting for us in an Andrew's Army shirt (one of my dear friends dropped one off on her porch before our meeting without me knowing anything about it).  From the moment they saw her standing there with her Andrew's Army shirt on, along with her sweet and inviting disposition, I could tell they were sold.

*While we were in Orlando for Abby's soccer tournament, one night (late at night when the kids really needed to be sleeping because we had an early morning the next day), Abby and Andrew had a conversation that I thought might destroy me because it felt as though I could feel my heart was beating outside of my body; so vulnerable that it was hard to breath, but I knew I had to help them navigate the expression of their feelings.  Andrew basically shared with Abby that he is afraid that someday when she's older and has a family of her own that he doesn't know if he could handle if they had to live far apart from each other (he specifically said, "I know you love playing soccer and I love that you play soccer, but what if you have to live in another country someday...  this brought on a lot of tears), she might forget about him, and she might stop taking care of him because she will have a family of her own to take care of.  He went on to say, "what if God calls me home early, I want you to always remember me and smile and never ever forget about me, I don't want you to think about times when I made you mad or upset you." Needless to say, there were lots of tears, hugging, reassurance, and prayer.  The conversation ended up being such a blessing, giving us a ton of insight into Andrew's heart and helping Abby see why he may respond to her in certain ways.  I'm grateful David and I have their counselor to help us process these types of feelings with the kids.  She (the counselor) confirmed that Abby is Andrew's #1, so the reassurance of her love for him and that nobody, no time, no temporary separation will ever hinder her love for him is something he needs to be reminded of.  Something else that we are always striving for is to make sure we have a God-honoring balance as it relates to Abby's soccer.  If it were up to her, she would play soccer all day every day (although she is great about prioritizing her walk with Christ over soccer).  Their counselor has affirmed for us over and over that soccer is a very healthy outlet for Abby.  It is her "safe" place... the only place she can go and not think about cancer, Grace's heart, etc while having a ton of fun.  Abby also loves that David and I are so purposeful about watching and cheering her on whether it's practice or a game.  Despite the fact that we love watching her play and love our soccer family, it makes all the time, money, and energy we allocate to her love for soccer worth it to know that it is a healthy escape for her because she spends SO much of her life serving others (especially her family).  All that to say, as I prayed about finding the kids a counselor I did something that is difficult for me and that was to just be still (wait) until the Lord moved.  I tend to be the type that wants to get things off my "to do" list as quickly as possible (i.e. find the kids a counselor... check), especially if it is a task that impacts the kids spiritual, mental, physical, or emotional health.  However, it took well over 6 months (including much research, emails, and phone calls) before the Lord brought us to this counselor that is perfectly suited for our family.  While I don't know why He allowed a 6 month delay, it was certainly a reminder of God's faithfulness... He is never late; He knows our needs before we do; He is already where we are going; He is tender and merciful; and His grace IS sufficient for our time of need (not a moment sooner ;-).

The crew at one of Abby's basketball games this weekend!

I don't have many pics of Abby at soccer for some reason, despite the fact that she's always playing soccer, but I did find this pic from a tournament a few weeks ago.  Abby lovin' on her bubba in between games!

This girl is something special (I mean Abby... although Emme, the dog is special too)!  Love her heart that is so tender and so fierce all at the same time!

5)  Last update I promise, but I have to make sure to document this moment for myself too because it was such a special one... our church had an Ash Wednesday service which was AMAZING!!!  I took Andrew and Grace because David was with Abby at soccer.  The service was a powerful way to start preparing our hearts for the next 40 days, leading up to Easter.  We were reminded of our depravity  (sin/moral corruption) that nailed Jesus to the cross.  Cancer and congenital heart defects exist because we live in a fallen world... they (in addition to the heartache and devastation we see all around us) serve as a constant reminder to our family of the ramifications of sin (not Andrew or Grace's sin, we don't believe in the karma type of sin... you sinned, so you get a bad consequence like cancer...  otherwise we would all be punished constantly/all day everyday, but instead the sin that entered the world as a result of the fall of man/Adam and Eve), but the story doesn't end there (THANK GOD)... our sin is trumped by the ultimate act of grace that our God displayed on that cross 2,000 years ago.  As it says in Isaiah, He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins, the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by His wounds we are healed!  What a great God that He would die in our place, that makes Jesus the most loving man I know, but the fact that He conquered the grave... he didn't stay dead, He rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us.  The peace and joy on earth we can find in Jesus (even when life really sucks) and the hope we have in eternity, changes everything!  Sorry, I got off on a tangent (can you tell that speaking truth to myself is something I have to do often because it is powerful?), but between our pastor's teaching and the awesome time of worship, the Holy Spirt spoke to my boy in a powerful way.  He worshipped with his arms around me and looked up at me once to say "Our life is so hard, but I know it's going to be ok, I know its going to be ok!"  Later, he looked up at me and said how much he loved me, that he wouldn't want any other mommy, that he really loves that I always point him to God when times are hard, etc.  Fortunately, since Andrew's love language is words of affirmation, he is really good at affirming those around him often, so this isn't out of character for him, but it was so heart felt.  Through a plethora of tears, I shared with him how proud of him I am  and how I strive to be as strong and brave as he is, how I admire the way he is truly broken about his sin and so serious about repenting (really trying to do things better), the way he loves others so sacrificially, and then I couldn't help but to start praying over him, at which point our precious friend, Mrs. Kathy, joined us in prayer.  It was such a grace-filled time, all of which took place while Grace was both worshipping on her own or sitting on the ground with her hands folded and head bowed, praying (I was really proud of her for being such a good listener and so patient during the whole service).  Since David and Abby weren't there, Andrew's bestie, Mr. Alan and his wife Mrs. Kathy, sat next to us on the front row (may favorite place to sit in church :-).  Mr. Alan and Andrew went up to the front of church together to do an activity symbolizing being renewed and set free in Christ.  They drew a cross together with paint on a canvas and prayed together while up there and I of course sat and wept as I witnessed a young boy and elderly man (although Mr. Alan is the youngest 82 year old I have EVER met) that could only be united in such a profound way by a God that is tender beyond words.  Who knows how long either Andrew or Mr. Alan have on this earth, but one thing I know for sure, Andrew being loved and mentored by a man that loves the Lord with every cell in his body (despite living through some of the deepest loss and brokenness that you could think any one person could endure), has a bond with my boy that is unlike anything I could ever imagine (they literally have playdates 1-2 times per week for up to 8 hours sometimes and it is still never enough time for them to do all of their drawing, lego building, watching movies, etc), and has not a fear in the world about going home to meet his Savior someday, makes me ponder.  Is the Lord so tender that He would unite their hearts hear on earth, so that when they go home (whenever that is...  I've talked to God about Mr. Alan living to be 100 and Andrew getting to be an old man), Andrew will know someone upon entering heaven and not have to fear getting there and worrying about how he will know where to go?  Well, I can't get my mind, heart, or fingers to type the rest of that thought, but I'm trusting you know what I mean ;-).

Not the best pic, but I had to snap it quick so I didn't look too awkward taking pictures during the church service ;-).  These two are 73 years apart in age by this worlds standards, but they are both equally young at heart, and yet, oh so wise as their souls reflect God's goodness and joy even in the midst of raging storms.

Heading off to one of their weekly playdates!

WOW! It's hard to believe, but in just two days (Feb. 22nd) it will be exactly a year since we received Andrew's cancer diagnosis.  That day we went to an appointment with an oncologist thinking they were going to release him to be followed by the liver specialist because, at that time, the Dr's had crossed out with a pencil the possibility of cancer.  Nothing could have prepared me for that day...  all I could remember is after hearing stage 4 cancer the room went silent, despite the fact that the Dr's mouth was still moving.  All I could do was watch my healthy looking boy who was sitting on the table next to me, joyfully playing his iPad, completely oblivious that he was being given a death sentence at that moment.  Filled with such disbelief, fear, and heartache my mind was racing....  is this for real? how quickly can I get out of here so I can start doing some research? where do we go to find the best Dr's to help us? how in the world do we explain this to Abby? even more so... how do we explain it to Andrew? Our lives will never be the same...  that's when I stopped the Dr mid sentence and asked him if we could just stop and pray.  From that day on, God has taught me what it looks like to let Him and Him alone be the author of our story.  Allowing God to be the author requires us to see with our faith, not with our eyes, heart, mind, or the expertise of Dr's...  it calls us to a radical faith that many days feels foolish because it flies in the face of anything this world deems as reality.  We learned the lesson of opening our hands/releasing the grip we have on our children and trusting His will, not ours, when Grace was born (after almost losing her twice and 6 open heart surgeries later), but cancer is a whole different beast!  We continue to surrender our children and our will daily to Him and we continue to live everyday with radical hope that our God can do exceedingly, abundantly beyond anything we can comprehend and even if that doesn't come in the form that aligns with our will, our hope... we will praise Him anyway.  Until we have a reason to believe otherwise, we are going to hope on and ask God for a miracle for Andrew because only He can heal Him or let him live a loooong healthy life with cancer in his body.  He is able and He is worth it!

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." 
 Hebrews 10:23

***Will you please pray for my heart on Feb. 22nd, I don't know if that day will come and go like any other day or if I'm going to get taken out at the knees by the enemy?

***Friendly reminder... please pray for Andrew's next scans on March 7th!  For more great news and the green light to move forward with his 4th and final round of PRRT!  Please also pray for wisdom as to what the next steps should be after PRRT because at this point, we don't really have a plan...  we need God to tell us and our Dr's what to do next. 

This is what we would look like without y'alls love and support (this pic is courtesy of Grace during a daddy and Gracie date;-)!

THANK YOU ANDREW'S ARMY!!!  You are our people!!!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Lots of praises!

This is David again, I was trying to figure out where to begin the blog and the first thing coming to my mind is that we received great news from Andrew's scan results before he began his 3rd PRRT treatment on Friday.  The tumors have not really changed in size (maybe only .02cm total across about five of the larger tumors they are monitoring for each scan); however, the good news is that on Andrew's FDG PET scan, there is about 50% less uptake of glucose unilaterally across all tumors throughout Andrew's body.  Andrew's cancer tumors require glucose in order to multiply, therefore, this demonstrates the tumors slowly dying and having less of an ability to reproduce (at least, that is my interpretation and could be very far from an accurate medical description of what is happening).  The doctors at Excel Diagnostics also stated that, while the tumors have not reduced in size yet, if this trend continues, then after his 4th PRRT treatment the hope will be that the tumors collapse on themselves and will cause shrinkage of the tumors.  We are praying and hoping tumor shrinkage will lead to pain shrinkage and an ability to get Andrew off all these pain meds (he's still on about 8 heavy duty pain meds).  No matter what, we are excited about how this treatment is working thus far and praise God for His continued work in Andrew's body.  Although, to be honest, if nothing was working at all, we would still be praising God for his continued work in Andrew's life and body.

PRRT round 3!

Andrew's sleeping arrangements for his 6 days of quarantine  He's got his snuggle buddies (a bear to represent every member of the family with some of our clothing on)

During PRRT, Andrew and I did our usual night of camping.  At 38 years old, you would think I would be wise enough to pay attention to the weather and plan better for myself; however, I did not learn my lesson from last time and spent the night shivering in my sleeping bag.  At home, Kristi usually makes me feel like I'm roasting with the temperature in the house and I sleep in the bare minimum; therefore, I did not plan well for sleeping in 38 degree weather.  Oh yeah, my sleeping bag lies as well, it states that it'll keep you warm down to 35 degrees.

Anytime I have to be away from the house I have a talk with Emme and remind her of the important role she has in keeping the girls safe.  Emme keeps eye contact when I tell her this, therefore, I assume she gets the message.  This is a picture of Emme going above and beyond the call of duty.  Good job, Emme!

We had a great time at Abigail's 3v3 soccer tournament in Orlando.  We enjoyed getting to spend time with Abigail's teammates and their families.  The team did great, finishing in third place at the tournament.  Most of the other teams in Abigail's bracket were from somewhere in the Northeast, where they play a lot more soccer inside during the Winter and frequently practice and play these small sided games.  The fact that our girls finished third, with this only being their second tournament of them all playing together was fantastic.  The team that won the tournament only beat us by one goal in the semifinals, in a game where our girls dominated the game in possession and shots, we just didn't get enough in the goal.  Overall, it was a great experience and one our kids will never forget.  We also had the opportunity to go to Universal Studios (with most of our time spent in Harry Potter areas) and Disney World (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom).  Grace especially loved Disney and one of our highlights of the whole trip was when Andrew and Grace were selected during the Lion King show to go onto the stage and perform with cast for one of the songs.  I will attempt to post the video of this (Grace was amazing)!

A well deserved 3rd place in the Nation for this great group of girls!

Team and their siblings (minus Grace since she didn't want to get close to Minnie)

Andrew got to be the team captain for the semi-final game and the game for 3rd place.  The ref gave him the coin he flipped and Abby's coach gave him a trophy too! So cool!

Harry Potter world (not official name) was awesome! 

Hogwarts Express was so well done!
 More Hogwarts Express...

I want one of these...

Magic Kingdom fun while waiting for the creepy Winnie the Pooh ride

A glimpse of Abigail's rarely seen (by the general public) silly side!

Zebra Minnie ears.... how awesome is that!

Buzz and Woody were a huge part of Andrew's life for many years, we couldn't resist having him take a picture with them (just not in the 45 minute long line)

Lovin on their Bubba with a sneak attack!

Tea cups with this cutie.  We knew Grace couldn't spin it too fast so we agreed to go on the ride with her verses the big kids ;-)

More Buzz!  We can't get enough of that dude, he's like a part of our family!

Dumbo ride buddies!

We've noticed Andrew's many pain meds make everything more vivid in life (even the 3D "Bugs Life" movie/ride was a little much for him), scary Yeti monsters included, so we were so proud of him for going on the Everest roller coaster

Andrew got to do Jedi training!

Grace and Andrew participating in the Lion King Show at Animal Kingdom!

At the end of our trip at Animal Kingdom the kids went to use the Disney gift card they got for Christmas...  Andrew had his heart set on this lion stuffed animal he saw, so you can imagine what Abby was determined to use her money for, that lion for Andrew.  While David and Abby rode the Everest ride (we did a parent swap), Andrew, Grace and I looked around the gift shop.  Andrew saw the jewelry section and immediately said "I want to get a ring for Abby with my money."  I couldn't believe it since he had been REALLY excited about getting that lion he wanted.  I helped him pick out the right size ring for Abby and he went to pay for it with his gift card.  I could see the wheels turning in his head as he waited for the cashier to ring him up...  "if I buy this for Abby, I won't get my lion, but it's ok...."  He bought the ring and gave it to Abby,  She loved it!  I was so proud of him for loving so sacrificially.  A few minutes later I asked Abby what she wanted to buy with her gift card (already knowing the answer).  She replied "I want to buy Bubba the lion!"  His eyes lit up with such gratitude.  It was a pretty amazing teachable moment!

Abigail had her first basketball game of the season and her team had a big win in a hard fought game... and Abby only fouled once.  She had played soccer all weekend at ODP (Olympic Development Program) training, so it’s all too easy to bring some of the aggressiveness of soccer to the basketball court, but she did a great job of going hard and minimizing fouls. ;-)

Abby's cheering section!

Grace continues to provide constant comedic relief with her hilarious and witty antics. Her favorite song these days is the Seagulls bad lip reading song from Star Wars. Hearing her sing it and act it out is the best!  In case you haven't had the opportunity to hear this gem, here it is for your listening and viewing pleasure.

Kristi and I have been praying a lot about her job and if she should consider moving to the Oncology division within Pfizer (since she obviously has a new found passion for the Oncology world).  In December, a position became available in the Houston area (in the Medical Center- same hospitals she has been calling on for the last 12 years), so we prayed about it and Kristi applied for this position.  After having had a few interviews for the position, Kristi was offered the job this past Friday (same day we got good news about Andrew’s scans) and she accepted.  She is looking forward to moving into this division and having the opportunity to grow in her knowledge of the oncology landscape, but above all, she's excited to help patients in their battle against this dreadful disease . Anyone who knows Kristi knows she doesn't do anything half-a*#, so the next few months of home study and training are going to be intense for her, but I know she will love it.

***I (Kristi) am back- We were all reunited (after our six days of quarantine from prrt) and it feels SO good!

Grace's first comment when she got off the bus and after she gave David and Andrew a hug, "Family hug...oh, oh, picture!"

We are rejoicing over good news, great memories, and new opportunities!  Therefore we shouldn't be surprised that the enemy is busy trying to crush our hope and cause us to fear the future instead of rejoicing in the present (especially when we get good news about Andrew’s treatment, the enemy's motive is to squelch our praise by reminding us of what statistics say, etc), but we will continue to hope on and hold on to the One who holds our future in His hands. The One who can do exceedingly, abundantly beyond what we can even imagine!  We serve a big God, who I’m certain has big plans for our family and yours. Let’s not grow weary in asking God for that miracle for Andrew and for what ever is burdening your heart!

We sang this song in church on Sunday and I haven’t stopped thinking about the power and truth behind these words...  I’m praying this song over our family and yours!

“Let faith arise in spite of
what I see Lord I believe
But help my unbelief
I choose to trust You
No matter what I feel, let faith arise
Let faith arise
For my champion's not dead, He is alive!
Oh, and He already knows my every need
Surely He will come and rescue me

God of miracles come
We need Your supernatural
love to break through
Nothing's impossible
You're the God of miracles

Let faith arise and see the kingdom come
I lift my eyes, oh
for the battle has been won
My God is faithful, oh
and every single word
He said is true, oh

This world is shaking
but You cannot be shaken
My heart is breaking
but I'm not broken yet
Your love is fearless
Help me to be courageous too
Oh there is nothing impossible

For the God of miracles
We need Your supernatural love
To break through, nothing's impossible
You're the God of miracles”

What is the enemy using in your life to steal your joy and hope? Let’s choose joy because our God is bigger (than anyone or anything), He is worthy, He will never let go of you, He is already where you are going!  Let faith arise!  #hopeon #Heisbigger #butGod

ANDREW'S ARMY, you continue to carry us with your prayers, encouragement, acts of service, and so much more! I will never stop thanking God for you and praying over you and your family!