Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hope on!

Precious Andrew’s Army, it’s been a few weeks since I have posted on the blog, for which I apologize.  I just haven’t found even a few seconds to do so.  This past weekend, David and I went to California for David’s 20 year high school reunion.  It just so happens that some of my very best friends went to high school with David (or a high school near by).  We had such a blast getting away just us two for 48 hours (I just love time with my man), spending time in our old stomping grounds that will always feel like home, and spending time with dear friends.  

LOVE these girls!  Check out the perfect shirt they had made for me.  It says #But God on the front and all different titles from various blog posts on the back!

It's a tradition...  lunch on the pier at Ruby's!

Dinner and lots of laughs with some dear friends!

My hot date ;-)

Two out of three of my Cali besties!  

The guys!

My Mother and Father in Love that held down the fort while we were gone!

Andrew started Afinitor three weeks ago now and so far so good, in term of its physical toll on Andrew.  While he is a little more tired and has to do a super nasty mouth wash 3-4 times a day to prevent awful canker sores, he’s doing good!  He is still joyful and full of energy (energy that can only be explained by God because there is a giant war going on in his body).  He got his monthly shot in his butt this week and despite it being very painful he was still very brave.  The shot has to go deep into the muscle (it’s a 19 gauge... very thick needle and the medication is very viscous, so it doesn't go in fast and it burns going in).  The shot is supposed to help with pain and (hopefully) halt or slow the progression of his cancer.  We won't know until early October if the Afinitor is working (it isn’t easy waiting 3 months to see if a particular medication is even touching the cancer) because that is when he will get another scan.  We are still waiting to hear back from Iowa as to if the PRRT trial is open and available to Andrew.  Without the power of the living God being unleashed through these medications/treatments it will all be in vain, so will you please join us in praying that the Lord would use these medications/treatments to wreak havoc on Andrew’s cancer and shut it down?

Love this picture!  What would you guess they are watching?

Grace got to return to her happy (Gigi's Playhouse) place now that she is past her sternal precaution from surgery which includes staying away from germs.  The lesson was on dinosaurs.  They are digging for dinosaur bones of course!

God has taught me a lot over the past couple weeks, as to how I’m suppose to endure this journey, because one thing that is difficult to wrap my mind around is that there is a high likelihood that Andrew will battle this disease for the rest of his life.  What I mean by that is, Neuroendocrine Tumor cancer is very different than many other cancers.  With many cancers you are diagnosed, there is a protocol to treat that you start immediately, and you can hope that at a certain point and time (at the conclusion of the protocol) that you are NED (no evidence of disease) and you stay that way.  Andrew’s type of cancer doesn’t come with a protocol and has no cure to date, which means the strategy is to knock the cancer down as long as possible and when it rears its ugly head again, you try and knock it down again, and again, and again.  There aren’t many treatment options (although there has been a handful of new treatments over the past 5 years, compared to the one or two that were available for the previous 30 years), so the other hope is that your cancer will respond to the available treatments because the options are limited.  There are Neuroendocrine Tumor patients that have received the news that they are NED; however, at this point the cancer returns 100% of the time.  All that to say, if the Lord allows us to hang on to our boy for a long time we will likely be battling cancer the entire time; the cancer journey will likely not end for us while Andrew has an earthly body.  Trust me when I tell you, we have full confidence and hope that God can miraculously heal our boy and that is exactly what we are praying for and to be honest, we don't even care how He does it (cast out cancer with a mere command, after all He created the world by just speaking it into being, so that would be nothing for Him, or if he uses Drs and medications).  Here is where the enemy gets busy, speaking lies into my mind…  lies like “He can heal Andrew, but He probably won’t” or as he reminds me of how “bad” his cancer is and the fact that so far the chemo we tried hasn’t worked, surgery didn’t go as we had hoped and prayed for “so it’s a sign of what’s to come, nothing is going to work.”  Throughout this journey, which began on Feb 22nd of this year, I have asked God to give me some sort of sign as to where we are going, to prepare my heart for what’s to come, and there have been a couple of times that I felt like He spoke very clearly to me, but then I find myself questioning Him “God was that really from you or was that something I dreamed up”…  you know the doubt or questions for clarity.  A couple weeks ago, I was going through a moment or two or three of brokenness (periodically, when I find myself overcome with sadness, frustration, or fear I will have to wait until I have time alone, which is most often in my car, when I can listen to my playlist of songs that allow me to experience brokenness and weep and as the playlist goes on be built up with truth and hope) and I was pleading with God, asking Him to speak to me and help me see where we were headed.  In His wisdom and tenderness He very clearly told me to just trust Him.  At first that answer felt too short and simple, after all that’s exactly what He tells His people all throughout scripture.  Maybe I was hoping for something “new,” but that is when God tenderly and very accurately reminded me that even if He told me what was ahead I would still have questions, I would still ask Him if I had heard Him right, to clarify, etc, so His answer of “trust me” was exactly what I needed to be reminded.  It was in that moment I decided to hope on, hope for a long life for Andrew (if He has other plans for Andrew’s future His grace will be sufficient for that time), hope on until God says otherwise. I will trust Him.  You know those are fighting words for the enemy, so the temptation bombs of fear will continue to fly with increased accuracy, so will you please pray that I/we can put on our armor for battle and hold on to hope, despite the whizzing of bombs past our heads and the smell of smoke in the air?

This about sums it up!

Praying God's favor over each of you!  Praying you know how much God loves you and how much the Ross family loves you too!!!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Regional Champs

I intended to update the blog this weekend, but we ended up going out of town at the last minute and didn't get home until late Sunday night.  This weekend was a blast, in that at the last minute Abby got a chance to play in a 3v3 State Championship Tournament because one of the sweet girls on the team broke her arm a couple days before the tournament.  Abby was super excited to get to play with some of her new teammates and we were excited to get out of town as a family to do something that was not centered around Dr's appointments, surgery, heart defects, or cancer...  we got to have a pretty "normal" family weekend!  We laughed a lot, got to meet some of Abby's new teammates and their families (who couldn't have been sweeter), and the cherry on the top was that their team won the tournament!!!

Andrew and Grace were the team mascots at Abby's tournament this weekend!

-Abby had her appointment with the spine specialist yesterday and God showed off big time...  the doctor said Abby's back is totally fine!  He said Abby does have a sway back, but it's just the way she was made (just like her Daddy's body) and not a problem.  Giant praises for a piece of good news!!!

-Andrew started his new chemo treatment last Monday and so far so good in terms of side effects (we just don't know if it's working yet).  He did get his first canker sore yesterday, so we need to do a better job of using his steroid mouth wash (it's hard because he hates it) multiple times a day.  His pain has been pretty well managed with only a few episodes of breakthrough/really bad pain, which is another huge praise!!!  Will you please pray the mouth sores don't get worse because that is what often times causes patients to have to take a break from the medication because it can become unbearable.  Please also pray that we can continue to keep his pain well controlled and even more than that, we would see some improvement in his pain because the treatment is working.  That would be crazy awesome.

I was pretty defeated after our appointment with Andrew's Oncologist here in Texas last week because he seemed to lack hope.  God reminded me that I shouldn't be surprised he doesn't share in the same level of hope we have because his hope isn't in Christ.  We are going to hope on with crazy big hope because we serve a God that is bigger than our definition of whatever crazy hope is.  As it says in scripture... to Him who can do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond anything we can think or imagine, that is Who we are placing our hope in!  When I see, read, or hear y'all share how you are hoping on with us, it is water to my parched soul, so thank you and please continue to join us in hoping on!  #butGod

At Andrew's last blood draw, his liver enzymes were 10x the upper limit of normal :-/, so that is one of the reasons we had to tinker with his pain meds last week in an effort to pull back on the use of Tylenol.  Please pray his constant use of Tylenol was the cause of his elevated liver enzymes or that it was just an isolated incident on this lab draw, otherwise this could be a sign of his liver function being impacted by all of the lesions in his liver. **** Just got lab results back and another HUGE praise is in order...  his liver enzymes are normal!!!

Any time Grace tries to snuggle the dogs she asks us to take a picture

Last week, David and the kids went out to my sister-in-law's house in the "country" and the kids got to enjoy driving ATV's and feeding the cows

We hope and pray you all have an awesome, God-honoring, Spirit-filled week!