Highlight: On Monday, March 3rd, Joseph will start the most intense block of his three year treatment cycle. We have been told to expect his neutrophils to get so low that he will get an infection and need to be hospitalized during this block of treatment. This block of treatment will last at least 8 weeks.
Prayer Request: Please pray for Joseph’s safety and protection from side effects as he starts this new intense treatment block.
Highlight: Joseph has been doing well and in the last two weeks has started running as well as evidencing a quickly expanding vocabulary.
About two weeks ago we noticed that Joseph was starting to walk around on his tip toes. Then he started to follow after his older brothers who were running around the house. Then one day Joseph started to run behind them, all the while calling out “I’m Running!”
The next check up at the hospital I told his doctors that he had starting running and their response was “That is great! Many children lose the ability to walk during the early blocks of treatment.”
Once again we were shown just how much Joseph has been sustained by prayer.
Starting on Monday the 3rd of March, Joseph will be entering the most intense block of chemo during his entire 3 year treatment. He will receive 6 drugs, 3 of which he has not yet been exposed to before. We have been warned that it is very common for children to become so immune suppressed that they get an infection and have to be hospitalized. Of course with every new drug there is a long list of potential side effects, so we are reminded afresh of our dependence on the Lord for Joseph’s health and future.
The prospect of infusing Joseph with several poisons is disturbing. It rubs against my natural instincts as a father. Yet, as we enter into this season I recall those first weeks of Joseph’s treatment when he was very distressed and very ill. Once day a nurse suggested that the problem was that his mouth was likely too sore for him to eat due to the infection he was struggling with. She said that he was certainly hungry but unable to eat due to the pain. I asked what we should do and she told me that we should swab the inside of his mouth with an antiseptic and a pain relief liquid. Both of these would be painful to apply to the raw and irritated tissue in his mouth. However, the result should be that he would be able to eat without pain for a few hours. My job was to hold Joseph while this procedure was carried out. It was indeed painful and he really cried out while this was being done. I was praying for him and telling him that while it stung it was going to be for his good. The nurse was right. Within 10 minutes of this treatment Joseph was asking for food. He was REALLY hungry. As he ate his levels of distress dropped and he fell asleep in my arms for a good nap. Then for the following week, before each meal, this became our routine – me holding Joseph while he cried and writhed as the nurse treated his mouth. Each time it resulted in him being able to eat well, but if you had looked in through the window all you would have seen was a father hurting his son.
The only way I could bring myself to do this to Joseph was the knowledge that this was for his good. Actually, if we had not done that he would have been much worse off. That caused me to think of how God the Father actually poured out pain and suffering on His Son when Jesus was crucified. All the while God the Father loved Jesus more than I could ever love Joseph. How could God the loving Father do this to His Son? Because it was for OUR good. Those painful treatments were healing Joseph’s mouth. But Jesus painful treatment was for the healing of our souls and spirits for eternity.
As we enter this new block of treatments for Joseph with so many unknowns, I can put my trust in a Heavenly Father who loves me and Joseph more than I can take in. He has the strength to allow us pain, but only when it will be for our good.
What then shall we say to these things? 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 with him graciously give us all things?
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.