Andrew finished his second round of chemo on Thursday. All things considered, he weathered it well. His tummy pain has definitely been better since he's been on chemo (he still takes pain medication around the clock, but we are able stretch out the duration between doses from every 4 hours to every 6+ hours and use a little lower dose of pain meds-- that is praise worthy for sure). However, as of today (Tuesday) we are noticing that the pain seems to be creeping back up :-(. Please join us in praying that the improvement in pain will hold.
Here are a couple highlights over the past few weeks that I want to make sure to share with y'all:
-We continue to be blessed by the best, most thoughtful, and generous community EVER!!! The kids' school (staff and families) have come along side of us in ways we never imagined. I have to admit, when I'm at work and see a call from Campbell Elementary, my heart drops because I immediately think it's the nurse calling because Andrew needs to be picked up because of his pain or he's come down with a fever or something (it's mortifying to send your kid with a weak immune system to a place with all things germy, especially when you hear about kid after kid coming down with flu, etc), but I'm more often than not surprised to find that it is just one of the precious staff or administrators calling to give me an update on steps they are taking to help make school a stress free place for Andrew, a fundraiser that a parent has suggested and they want my approval, etc. Andrew's Army was in full effect on free dress day at school. It was crazy amazing to see so many children and staff rocking their shirts and bracelets. I think the biggest blessing of that day was the prayer meeting that took place before school (across the street from the school). Our youth pastor came and did a brief devotional, led us all in prayer, and then we all enjoyed donuts (with green icing of course ;-). I know so many are praying near and far for our sweet boy, praying as if he is your child, for which we can never say enough thank you's. I got to see a beautiful picture that morning of unity in Christ... children and their parents came to school early, banding together to hear about the hope we have in Christ and where we can all draw our strength and courage from. The kids were all so attentive it was awesome and then the opportunity to witness the unifying of the body of Christ in prayer, petitioning our Lord on behalf of Andrew and our family was powerful. It is an image that will forever be etched in my mind!
-A couple weeks ago, Andrew's year round swim team, Escalate, held a swim-a-thon for Andrew. This swim-a-thon was a phenomenal display of boys and girls sacrificing their comfort, time, and energy to support a team mate (many of the kids that swam were good friends, but there were a bunch who hardly know our family and yet still participated as if it was for their brother). These kids literally went door to door to collecting sponsors from neighbors, etc. On the day of the swim-a-thon the kids swam as many laps as they could in an hour. I watched as these kids pushed themselves beyond their comfort zone, many had a number of laps they were determined to make to maximize their fundraising and they pursued that goal like it was for an Olympic medal. I was touched by, grateful for, and beyond proud of every kid who participated! On the morning of the day of the swim-a-thon, I was feeling beat up and discouraged because Andrew's tummy pain was at an all time high, we couldn't get Iowa to respond to us, and life was just overwhelming. I told God that I knew He was there with me, I just needed to see His hand. I asked Him to reveal Himself to me and boy did He... prior to the swim-a-thon the most laps Andrew was able to do since he was diagnosed was TEN (for what ever reason the motion of swimming is very painful for him). Andrew really wanted to participate in the swim-a-thon, so we just encouraged him to do what ever he was able to do and no matter what we would be so proud of him. Can you believe that boy swam SIXTY TWO laps?!?! That, plus seeing all those kids come out in full effect for Andrew's Army, swimming their hearts out, was just the hug from God I needed. Then to top it all off, David saw Andrew's most recent labs were posted on My Chart (the online application we use to check for any updates on labs, scans, etc) and a test they run that looks at circulating tumor cells in his blood had been cut almost in half since he started chemo! The hug I so desperately needed from God went from a sweet embrace to a bear hug!
-Other ways that sweet friends have supported our family are going door to door or sitting at the stop sign selling cookies and water or doing extra chores around their house. It is so cool to see kids want to do something to help someone in need, something more than just ask their parents for money. Another super cool story of generosity is the senior class at George Bush High School. Every year Chris Cipolla's class chooses a philanthropy to raise money for and this year they chose Andrew's Army! I can't help but think about the fact that all the children I have mentioned (and many more) are the next generation of leaders, which gives me great hope for a future that promises to be hard and scary in so many ways. These kiddos are learning what it means to humbly serve those in need, bear one anothers burdens, and practice empathy. I stand in awe of these children and the families they represent!
-Lastly, David and I celebrated 14 years of marriage and 19 years of being together! I picture how naive we were stranding at the alter 14 years ago, saying vows that seemed so simple at the time. I couldn't even fathom at the time the ways in which God would stretch, bless, break, restore, bend, and mold our faith and marriage. My man is my hero!
We celebrated Easter weekend with a whole lot of soccer, family fun complete with an Easter egg hunt and redemption center (trade in eggs for prizes, since we are trying to avoid candy with Andrew), and a mommy/daughter date with Abigail (we spent time talking (a lot), playing card games, laughing, shopping, playing soccer, eating, movie watching, and snuggling).
Mommy/daughter date night!
Andrew went to the ER today because of unusual intense pain on his left side. After an ultrasound, chest X-ray, and labs they still don't know the cause (his pancreatic enzymes were slightly elevated, but they don't seem too concerned about it), but will be releasing him soon (hopefully).