In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.

He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude...attempt #2

Last Tuesday, after posting my angry blog, I went to bed, still frustrated. In the middle of the night, Andrew woke up screaming, kicking his legs in pain, and crying that his eye hurt. Yup. That eye. I think my whole body stopped moving. Lungs, heart, everything. Terror. I took him downstairs, where John was still working and gave Andrew a bowl of cereal. He seemed happy enough, so I decided on denial.

That worked until Thursday morning when he woke up and his eye was puffy and he again complained that his "eye hurt." I was panic-stricken. During our scheduled doctor's appointment that morning I could hardly admit my fear to the nurse. I saw Andrew's life, and my own, taking a dramatic nose-dive.

Thursday morning they scheduled a CT scan before he began his previously scheduled chemo. I held my breath for several hours and sat in numb, silent hysteria until the doctor stuck his hand through the door with an "OK" sign. It was just a sinus infection, on both sides. It affected the one eye more significantly, probably due to all that has been done to it (surgery, radiation). He's on massive anti-biotics, but he is okay.

Wow. The moment after his original scream Tuesday night, I realized how much I had been taking for granted. I realized how silly I was to have spent my day worrying about the future, when the day itself had been happy, and Andrew had been happy. I realized how dependent I am on God for everything, and that everything I have is a blessing from him. And I have SO much.

We spent three VERY long days in the hospital. We arrived at 8 am Thursday morning and left at 8 pm Saturday evening, exhausted.

They gave Andrew medicine to "sedate" him for the CT scan, but it turned out to have exactly the opposite effect. He turned into a raging, writhing, miserable lunatic for 12 hours. He was literally attempting to dive out of his bed, headfirst. He screamed at me. He hit me. He screamed that he "hated me." Over and over. Every so often, he would calm down, put his head in my lap and sob. I would hug him and comfort him. Then he would ask for food, I would make it, and he would throw it at me. I kept trying to appease him, and please him, and make him happy, but he just kept screaming. If he could have punched me in the face, he would have. (He reminded me of myself, in my conversations with God.) It was exhausting, for both of us.

On Friday morning, the hospital staff and patients celebrated Andrew's last inpatient chemo. We sang the "hokie pokie." He "rang the gong" and licked the frosting off of three glorious cupcakes, blue, chocolate, and pink. (The dye in the cupcakes was so bright, his face was dyed pink for 24 hours. I'm not sure what was more toxic, the chemo or his cupcakes :).) I took about 2000 pictures while also trying to videotape. Surprisingly enough, none of it turned out very well. I needed at least one more hand.

Sunday I woke up with my own sinus infection and my period. I still feel icky and have a bad headache. Blah.

Earlier today I wrote, and then retracted a post about gratitude. It was a very cognitive, in my head, "trying to figure things out" post. It exhausted me, and it didn't feel real as I posted it, so I took it back.

I am grateful for so much. I can't walk two feet in my house without tripping over my blessings. I realize that everything in my life is a gift. But the last week or so, I have honestly felt like crawling into a deep dark hole and staying there. I start to worry that depression might take over and I wonder if I can I keep handling this... I guess part of it is that I dread the next few days. I fear what that orange "medicine" is going to do to my son this time. I am also finding myself terrified of "life after chemo." I thought I would be more excited, but I am finding myself so scared.

But I AM grateful.  I am grateful for a God who can handle my rage. I am grateful for a God who keeps on loving me, even when I call him a liar and a sadist. I am grateful for a beautiful husband who loves being a father and enjoys his children. I am grateful for my sweet and precious children. I am thankful for my dogs. I have a house, food, clothing, and a comfortable bed to sleep in every night. The list goes on and on.

It has been a long, emotional week. But I am grateful to have lived it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


  1. Dearest Julie, each time I read your journal I am awestruck by your strength, your faithfulness and your courage. This is truly a milestone for Andrew...completion of his inpatient chemo! Whoo-Hoo!! I am rejoicing and yes...doing the hokey pokey too!
    Julie, whenever you get a chance please email me at:
    God Bless you friend. Andrew and all of your family are in my thoughts & prayers each day.

  2. A friend of mine once told me that a true friend was someone that you could trust with your emotions. I guess that could be read "a good mom is someone..." Andrew trusted you with his emotions and knew that you'd love him despite all of the anger that he threw at you because you truly are a good mom. And maybe...using that logic (and your comparison of his behavior to yours) it could also be read "a good God..." And that makes me want to cry a little because maybe I thought God was too touchy or too full of himself to allow me to rail at him and still love me and forgive me. And because of that faulty logic, I've kind of avoided him and set him on the periphery of my life because I was afraid that he would be mad at me. I still don't know why God allows bad things like this to happen, but I guess he can handle our anger.

  3. Oh Julie, how scary that must have been. I've never been more glad to read about somebody have a double sinus infection!

    From what I've read (and experienced I suppose) I think it is VERY common to have mixed feelings about the end of treatment. Everybody expects you to just be so happy that it's over, but there is so much anxiety that comes with that. You've been in fighting mode for so long that when you stop fighting... what happens now? I totally 'get' that.
    I hope you have a wonderful, restful, peaceful Thanksgiving with your beautiful family.

  4. I'm so very glad that it was just a sinus infection. (How about that to put everything in perspective? Usually a sinus infection means a great deal of moaning and complaining and SUFFERING on my part, but I guess it could be so much worse.)

    I think because you're willing to ask the hard questions and confront God you're respecting yourself and him. Isn't it okay to push the limits with your parents as you're growing? Ask about stuff? As parents we look forward to these growth opportunities with our children. When Evan is too good (like that ever happens, HA!), it makes me nervous. Sure I get tired of the demands and emotional outbursts, but he's learning and growing. We're doing our job. God's doing his job by accepting what you have to offer him, even in the ways of tantrums and accusations. Otherwise, he's not much of a God. In my opinion.

    I know that doesn't help, but I had to rationalize.

    Sending lots of hugs to you, and happy thoughts.

  5. What an emotional roller coaster you've had this week, Julie. That must have been so hard on you to have Andrew react like that to the sedation. How profound that you made the connection to your feelings towards God...

    I'm so happy Andrew "Rang the Gong" and is now finished with chemo. Praying for smooth sailing from here on out...

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


  6. Hi Julie,

    It feels as though you and I are on completely opposite planes of grief. You are struggling with the stress and pain of watching Andrew overcome cancer and I am struggling with the pain and frustration of not being able to bear a child.

    Sometimes when I am sad, I think about you and the pain you are enduring and it makes me think - "stop your complaining." But other times, it is also a reminder that we all have our "crosses to bear." Pain is pain, I guess.

    I just want you to know that through the last few months, through our reading (listening)and writing back and forth, I have never felt more closer to you. (which is amazing, seems how you and I live thousands of miles away from each other)

    Thank you for being so open about your pain and struggles through all of this. It's really freed me and allowed me to be honest with myself and with others. Your story and your courage has affected me in more ways than I could ever fully describe.


  7. Hi Julie,

    You have received so many great comments, that I am struggling to come up with one to match.
    But I couldn't read and not post.

    What I loved most about your post was the beautiful photos. What an amazing thing to take such a horrendous experience in awful surroundings, and create gorgeous photos.

    Oh and of course I loved the fact that Andrew 'just' had a sinus infection.
    More hugs and positive stuff being sent from Switzerland.

  8. Hugs to you Julie, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family! XO

  9. Bless your precious heart! I can only imagine all he emotions you have gone through these past months. May the Lord hold you close and comfort you when the days get long and dreary.

    A wonderful Thanksgiving to you and your "boys."

  10. I love your "punching in the face comparison". I think it's just that way with us and God, and moms and kids, and pain, and blame, and unconditional love, etc...
    I'm so happy that everything turned out okay! Hooray for toxic cupcakes!
    I hope you have a wonderful, RELAXING Thanksgiving day! :)

  11. What a roller coaster ride. I can't even imagine..... give your boys big hugs this Thanksgiving and know that I am sending you all my best! Hugs to you.

  12. Visiting here from another blog. Deeply moved by this story. Esp touching since we are celebrating Thanksgiving with my daughter's boyfriend's family, and both of his parents have cancer right now. We are in prayer for a number of people right now, and will be happy to add Andrew to our list. God's blessings upon you all, with healing and peace.

  13. Your words are profound, and I have to say that I am so thankful to have been able to read your blog over the past 7 months. I will continue to pray for Andrew and believe that his recovery is swift and entirely permanent. You are a strong Mom, an amazing woman. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and may today be filled with the love of God, laughter, and lightness.

  14. Happy Thanksgiving indeed, Julie. You are patient and wise, strong and loving - authentic and real. Keep it up - praying for your sweet fam to enjoy the holiday and looking forward to a good report, but can completely understand your fear too.

  15. I wish licking icing off cupcakes could ease our troubles as much as our children's. If it could, I'd send you a dozen. Hang in there, Julie. You've got a lot of people rooting for you and lifting you up, higher than any kind of depression can possibly ever reach.

  16. such a powerful, intense week. You attitude and words are so true and so clear. Our ordeals are all different, but your words and your conversations with God are so relevant to all of us. A "God who can handle my rage" is most certainly mt God, too!! ;)

    Blessings to you and your family!


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