Updates for May-July, 2005

Updates on John Chase from August - November, 2005

Posted Sunday, November 27, 2005 at 2:52 pm

John continues to do well spiritually and emotionally. Physically, unfortunately, he is not doing as well. He has periodic coughing spasms, sometimes coughing up a blood clot. He has developed two painless lumps, one on his temple area and one on his ribs. They donít show up as bone cancer on xray but they are likely related to it. He was short of breath last weekend with minimal exertion and it turns out his hemoglobin was 5 (over 10 is normal). After 4 units of blood he felt much better and his color improved. He has various aches and pains that come and go. He sleeps more. He has been invited to a ski trip in early January in Utah. I have started him on pushups, situps, and pull ups, along with treadmill time to help condition for it. Hopefully he can go. He spoke at a church last week, he is speaking at another next weekend. My favorite line from his testimony is "as long as I have breath in these cancer infested lungs I will use it to praise the Lord". Go John! Go God!

"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him....If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?...I am convinced that neither death nor life...nor anything else will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (scripture portions from Romans 6:28-39) I love words in scripture like all, everything, nothing,and anything. When the visible reality of my life doesnít seem consistent with these all inclusive words I run to Godís love. God has not withheld his love from me in the past (the greatest example is sending his son Jesus). God doesnít withhold his love from me now (the most obvious example is his peace and joy on the face of my son). God isnít going to withhold his love from me in the future. No need to fear, God is for us.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Wednesday, November 09, 2005 at 6:34 pm

Hey Everybody! I have had a group of enjoyable weeks since my last CT scan. A family in our church sent us on a week-long vacation to Myrtle Beach a few weeks ago. During which, Mom was forbidden from doing school (Oh Yeah!!). So we spent an awesome week hanging around the beach, sitting in the hot tubs, and gooffing off in the massive room. But on that trip I started having a weird pain in my right side, it became hard to breathe and I instantly started thinking about cancer. It is very hard to forget about somthing when it is related to your difficult breathing. Dad got me some pain meds and prayed for me, and it became easier to breathe. This all happened on the first day and the second day there. I kept taking pills through the third day, but on the morning of the fourth I quit taking the pills. It still felt tight but it didnít hurt. We sadly returned home, and I have had very little trouble with my lungs since. I have, emotionally, had some trouble with it though, it has proven to be a constant reminder of cancer. But because of that, it has also been a constant reminder of Jesus. And no matter what happens in my lungs, Jesus will stay with me through it all. A week ago, Dad found a magazine at work that was "accidentally" delivered there, it was addressed elsewhere. An article that was entitled "Chemo Lite" about low-dose chemotherapy taken by pill caught his eye. The chemo is given in very small doses and the person suffers almost no side effects (except for a low chance of hair loss). The thought behind it is that it impairs the cancer growth, though it probably wonít kill it. Dad called my oncologist and he told us about his experiences with it. In one instance, he saw the nodule melt. Well it sounded like it was worth a try so we ordered it and now I am taking 2 massive pills every night. It seems really weird to be taking chemo without all the nurses in Indianapolis or Ft. Wayne or puking my gits out. Our hope is that the chemo will make life miserable for those cancer cells. Hopefully, because we arnít letting the cancer recover between treatments (like we did with the high-dose chemo) and Iíve never taken this medicine before, the cancer might finally "Bite the dust". Of course there is also the possibility that God is zapping those cells right now and so speculation would be moot. I am hopeful about the chemo but I know that it canít do a thing without his blessing, so my hope is in God. I havenít lost my hair yet (but I also only started it a couple of days ago). Thank you so much for praying and continuing to pray. Please pray that I will keep my focus on God and not loose hope and that the cancer will be annihilated.
In Christ,
Johnny

Posted Monday, October 10, 2005 at 7:54 pm

John had his CT scan today and unfortunately he has four more nodules and the ones already present are larger. This bit of bad news came on the heels of a remarkable experience last week. Last night John, three of his siblings, and I got back from a mission trip to Mexico. We did a medical and dental clinic along with childrenís Bible schools and evangelism. Because of a hurricane 150 miles away we were dogged by rain most of the week. Wednesday we were planning to go into a remote mountain village to work. The day started sunny so we decided to try to get there despite water-vulnerable dirt roads. Halfway there the rain started again and we had to turn back just short of the village. Our interpreter remembered a small church nearby just off the paved road, so we went there.

We were greeted by the pastor who had been praying for help from God, because his foot had gotten infected and he had no money for a doctor. I checked his foot and gave him some cream and antibiotics. He didnít think we should stay that day to do a clinic in his church because the rain would keep people home, but he wanted to sing us a song and share his testimony.

He told us of his son who 6 years ago was diagnosed with lung tumors, and the doctors said they could do nothing. He prayed in the hospital over his boy who by then was quite sick, and the next morning the tumors were gone. The doctors sent him to a medical center, and after 10 days of testing the doctors declared it a miracle, and the pastor was able to testify to to them all of the greatness of Jesus Christ. As the translator was translating for us, he began to cry since he knew nothing of this story. The pastor then asked John to come up so he could pray for him, and as we all gathered around John, God showed up. As the pastor prayed, crying out in Spanish and then speaking in tongues, we all started weeping. The pastor, who speaks only Spanish, said over and over in clear English, "Youíre free."

The next day we were supposed to minister in a different mountain village. Since the rain was causing flooding everywhere, we arranged with this praying pastor to return the next day to do the clinic in his church. Many of the people we treated the next day were members of that pastorís church. A handful of them shared stories of how they had started coming to that church after a family member had been sick and had received healing there. I began to wonder if this pastor didnít have the gift of healing that scripture talks about. This is interesting because I donít really believe in going to a person who supposedly has the gift of healing. I figure we have been given open access to Jesus, why mess with middle men? "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)

Obviously, God isnít going to let my theology stand in His way. All this to say that we came back from Mexico with a sense of wonder and with high hopes this morning when we went in for the CT scan. Its easy to fantasize about miracles and wonder if God will actually give you one. I know God can trust me with one. I wouldnít be shy about giving him the credit. I know it still isnít too late -- but I am disappointed. I donít need to make excuses for God. No, God doesnít need anyone defending Him. And I can crawl right up in his lap with my needy, aching heart and find peace and joy and rest.

For now we will not pursue surgery or other questionable treatments. We will enjoy each day. We will probably get another CT scan in mid-December. John has been given several opportunities to share his testimony which he has enthusiastically accepted. Otherwise he plugs away at school, Bible quizzing, computer play, and other teenage boy stuff.


Thanks for praying....Phil

Posted Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 1:45 pm

John is doing well. He knows God is in control and will do whatís best. He has had several opportunities to share his testimony. He has learned how to rollerblade on Wilson (try it on a stilt some time). Chemotherapy doesnít seem to have affected his ability to hit clay targets in gun club. He keeps his usual upbeat, twisted sense of humor. Life is good and there is peace and joy in our household. October 10th weíll get another CT scan of his chest. If there is no new disease then weíll set up surgery to remove whatís there. If he has grown new nodules we donít plan any further treatments.

On the heels of a long narritive of how bad things were, Jeremiah writes, "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lordís great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him". The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." (Lamentations 3:21-26) Thatís where we are right now. Quietly waiting on him. Calling to mind his great love, his unfailing compassions, and his faithfulness, we are filled with hope and are not consumed. "The Lord is my portion"...God is enough!

Thank you for praying...Phil

Posted Friday, September 02, 2005 at 6:31 pm

John and I made a trip to Indy to talk with his oncologist about his future treatment plan. To make a long story short, we decided to pass on the chemotherapy. We will repeat his CT scan about mid October and if there are no new nodules weíll do surgery to remove all the ones that are present in the hope no more will form. If he continues to form new nodules then weíll go with comfort care and enjoy the good days while they last. Doctors are notoriously bad at predicting the future so weíre not going to worry about it. John has peace with this plan and understands we can change direction any time he wants.

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalms 16:11) Iím convinced that God is not going to let us goof-up his plan for John. One of Godís miracles is joy in spite of difficult circumstances. We continue to ask God for Johnís healing, but God given joy isnít dependent on him jumping through our hoop.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Iím pretty bummed. When Dad told me how bleak the situation is, I broke down and cried right there. I had suspected that something was up, but I hadnít realized what our choices are. I know that what ever happens the outcome will be me going to heaven sooner or later. I know that God has a plan for my life and knows how many seconds I have left to live. But I have two sick choices: One, we could wage a "Holy War" against the cancer, hitting it with combined chemical and technological warfare (chemo and surgery). The problem is that we have already hit it with surgery and chemo and they didnít seem to work. This choice will multiply the misery factor and probably wonít do anything but make me sick and miserable. The chance for cure is pretty bleak, only 20-30% of kids show "some response" to this treatment. Thankfully, we arenít dependent on statistics. And that brings into light that we donít have to do anything, I mean, everyone is going to die and I am not afraid of that. We could just back off, we already gave medicine a chance. We could just sit and wait on God for his timing. He might choose to keep me on the earth a little longer. I know he can. The second choice is a lot less painful but it also seems like it would be giving up. What if God wants to use medicine to heal me? If so, couldnít he heal me without medicine? The old saying, "God parted the Red Sea, but that doesnít mean we stop building bridges" echos in my head. I know that by doing nothing I would be trusting God completely, but would God want me to just wait around? I donít like either choice. I am still in shock about how hopeless my physical situation is medically. No one knows what to do. I am begging God to give me the wisdom to choose and to have peace about it. Please pray that God will give me wisdom and peace and that I could sleep better. Also pray for me about preparing my testimony because I am going to give it to a bunch of kids at a private school on Wednesday. And finally, please ask God for my complete healing. I am in such agony about what is happening, it would be so wonderful if God would just take this cup away. Thank you all for praying for me and lifting me up. Please continue pleading for me before the throne of heaven.

In Christ, (I am hanging on to him with both hands)
Johnny

Posted Sunday, August 28, 2005 at 4:02 pm

It has been a great couple of weeks with a week at a family camp in Michigan and then this week Johnís teenage cousin was here for man-training and fooling around. John feels great and can even run for short distances. He has found a new passion in full-contact half-court basketball.

John and I had a conversation yesterday that I had been putting off for a few days. Earlier this week I talked with his oncologists in Indy and Houston. The doctors in Indy are ready to go in and take out whatever tumor is visible with two separate surgerys (one month apart) with the hope that no more new tumors will materialize in the near future. The doctor in Houston agrees with the surgerys but says he should have one or two high dose blasts of chemo first followed by surgery then followed by two or more blasts of chemo. This time the doses are higher and the toxicities are more severe.

The prognosis for doing nothing is death in 6 to 9 nine months. The prognosis if he has surgery alone is unknown because we donít know if he will continue to form new nodules and if he does whether they will be operable. His pattern so far has been one or two new nodules a month. There is also a limited amount of surgerys you can have because there is a limitted amount of lung tissue you can live without. The prognosis if he has chemo and surgery is a 20 to 30 percent chance of "some response" and a remote chance of cure.

I told John the decision is really his..... I honestly donít know what to do and neither does anyone else. We hate to charge in with alot of misery if it just makes things worse without any real benefit but we donít want to give up either. We cried together and asked God for a hug. In some ways this is more difficult than first getting the diagnosis. The sense that there is a choice to make between three rotten paths is pretty aweful.....but God is here...He wonít let us take a misstep...He will show us the way.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) Hey God, weíre asking for some direction here. Iím glad you love this kiddo more than I do. I know you have a good plan. Help us to bring you glory. We know John is going to be in heaven some day, we just need help with some of the details between here and there. And if you could let him hang around here a lot longer weíd be grateful.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 at 4:22 am

John had his CT scan and the lung tumors of the previous scan are bigger and he has three new ones. This pretty much rules out surgery in the near future since we donít do surgery until he isnít forming new tumors. The scans are in the mail to Houston and Indy and we will have a game plan in the next week or two. We are disappointed but taking it in stride.

I was praying the other day...thanking God for revealing his love to us in Christ. All of a sudden God impressed this thought on me..."Iím revealing my love to you through John too." I just started weeping.

Thanks for praying...Phil