Updates for May-July, 2005

Updates on John Chase from May - July, 2005

Posted Saturday, July 23, 2005 at 2:05 pm

John is doing great. He is volunteering at a church camp for two weeks as a student assistant. He got back from his first week yesterday, tired and happy. People often ask how John is doing and I usually answer "spiritually and emotionally well, and physically he feels good but with the cancer in his lungs weíre not really sure how heís doing physically." I spoke with Johnís cancer doctor at M D Anderson in Texas and he suggested that more chemotherapy might be in order when surgery has removed all visible cancer. Itís controvertial and he isnít making any promises of cure or even definite benefit. Hey, we just want to do whatís right for John...donít give up...do no harm. Ultimately we want to do what God wants us to do. Nothing medical happening until mid-August when John has another CT Scan of his lungs. We will send off a copy of it to M D Anderson and to Indianapolis and come to some conclusions for a treatment plan by the end of August.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." (Psalms 32:8) Godís promise to us. No need to worry about future decisions. When Johnís last surgery was canceled we all knew it was the right decision. God gave us complete peace. No need to fret over lack of clear-cut direction for the future. Right now we have no decisions to make. Life is good. Each day is a gift. God is here now and He will here every tomorrow to guide us each step of the way.

Thanks for your prayers...Phil

Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 at 8:05 am

Wow! Shortly after we arrived in Indianapolis, the surgeon reviewed Johnnyís new CT scan with the oncologist and they felt it would be best to delay surgery at least a month. The reason? Since John has developed a few small nodules in just the last 3 weeks and since the goal of surgery is to make him disease-free, they thought it would be best to wait and see if more nodules develop in the next weeks so they could remove all of them at once. No sense in doing a major surgery that must be repeated again in a short interval of time. We are relieved, totally at peace, and grateful to God for his clear direction.

Thank you for your prayers. Phil, Laura, and John

Posted Sunday, June 26, 2005 at 6:57 pm

John had a repeat CT scan of his lungs yesterday to see what needs to come out tomorrow. He now has 2 nodules on the right and four on the left lung to be removed. Surgery is planned for 9am or so. John is trusting God to take care of things and doing his best not to think about it... which he says is difficult when he is packing for a hospital stay.

Our pastor once said that worry is nothing but meditating on the wrong things. This is surely a powerful life lesson on being obedient to Christ in not giving ourselves over to worry. God knows that worry does nothing but steal our joy and peace. If we disobey him by worrying we quickly experience its destructive fruit. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things...and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8,9)

Thanks for praying....Phil

Posted Saturday, June 18, 2005 at 7:38 pm

Hey everybody! Cancer has struck again. Well I guess God hasnít finished teaching me with cancer, yet. It is royally depressing to have cancer, be "cured" of it, have it again, be "cured" again, and then have it show up again. "HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO KILL YOU?!?" rings true in my ears. I only answer that I can come up with to that question is, "As many as it takes." Which I might add is a really lame answer. "Why wonít God just take it away for good?" and "Is God punishing me for somthing that I did?" and "Didnít I learn what he wanted me to learn with the first time cancer showed up?" are some of the questions that came up when I saw the CT scan. I donít have an answer to the first one, and though I desperately want it, I donít need it. The second question is more difficult, I know that God is just, and I also know that I have/do/will sin against him. But I also know that Jesus did/does/will forgive me and has washed me with his blood, so that God doesnít see my sin when he looks at me. I donít believe that God is punishing me, athough he has every right to and I do deserve it. I believe that he has a greater plan. When and if he decides to cure me, he will. And finally, the third question -- I may have learned everything that he intended for me to learn in this cancer experience but God does not waste pain. He may have given me this pain and this comfort (that is coming from him) so that I can comfort others in pain. All I can really do is pray for strength and live for God. Today I experienced a depression, everything seemed worthless and nothing seemed good. I asked God for comfort and it arrived about one minute later in the form of our visitation pastor! Did I ever mention that I love that guy? We spent a half-hour just talking and then we prayed. Boy, God really knows about comfort and encouragement. Thank you all for praying for me and supporting me in this. I am off to cancer camp this week. I am hopeful that I can spread some of the comfort the Lord has given me to others. In Christ (still here, where else would I be?) Johnny

Posted Thursday, June 09, 2005 at 7:24 pm

John is scheduled for surgery June 27. The plan is to do a sternotomy, opening his chest in the center, like open heart surgery, and taking out the nodules from both lungs at the same time. The surgeon is convinced that this is less painful than the surgery John previously had because they donít have to cut across muscles used in breathing. It just gives me bad visuals. For now it will be nice to live life for a few weeks without medical interventions. John feels good, is trusting God, and thinking little about tomorrow. Weíre going whitewater rafting for a few days, then he has cancer camp.

"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." (Matthew 6:34) With what appears to be looming in the future - it is hard not to go there with my thoughts. In fact as I try to discipline myself to enjoy what God has given me each day, I have a recurring thought accusing me of living in denial of reality. I am coming to realize that rather than living in denial of reality, it is living in obedience to Christ. And as I live in obedience to Him, I find life and joy and peace and rest. I read recently "donít let the things you cannot control destroy your enjoyment of the things you have been given."

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Saturday, June 04, 2005 at 5:33 am

Yesterday John had a CT scan of his lungs. Unfortunately it showed more cancer. His right lung now has a new 1 cm lesion and his left lung has three: two small 2 mm lesions and the one that had shrunk now growing and back to 8mm. Not exactly what we had been praying for. We see Johnís oncologist Tuesday and will likely be scheduling surgery after that. First John and I are going on a white-water rafting trip next week with some friends. John is disappointed but does a good job in leading all of us in not worrying about the future. Lately he has developed a penchant for climbing trees...his mother would rather not know what heís up to.

Thank you for praying for my (Phil) nose. After draining pus for 4 weeks, a hunk of wood about the size of a dime came out of the wound and the wound immediately dried up and healed. I have a nice scar on my nose to remind me of that little lesson in patience and trusting God. When the wood came out and I knew that trial was over I exploded with joy and gratitude to God, weeping and gushing praise to Him. It consumed me. Then God asked me why I have trouble gushing such enthusiasm to Him as I worship and praise Him in church for my salvation. In all of life God is training us.

"One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done." (Ps 62:11,12) Sometimes when things arenít going the way I would like it feels like Iím being backed into a corner with nowhere to go. Pressed by adversity, I know that running to anxiety, worry, bitterness, self pity, "miracle cures", and "other gods" is not the answer. So here I am trapped....with God....who is strong and loving. Now I understand He has lovingly backed me into this corner so I can know Him more. I can trust Him and live my life in peace and joy.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Tuesday, May 17, 2005 at 6:58 am

I didn't think there would be much to post for a few months but we have a big answer to prayer. The big turmoil over John not having his second surgery revolved around him having to drop out of a trial of an investigational therapy that may help his immune system fight off the cancer that didn't respond to the chemotherapy he got last year. Since the therapy is unproven (but promising) we felt avoiding what appears to be an unnecessary surgery was preferable to having the surgery just to continue in the study. I had put it to rest until this past weekend when I thought why not call the study director and see if she might not allow him to continue in the study. We told our friends to pray and I called Mayo clinic today and spoke with her. She was very kind but resistant at first and said she would talk with the statistics person. 15 minutes later she called and said he could stay in the study. Yeah God!

John has a neat opportunity last weekend. A man in our church is facing the prospect of having part of his foot amputated and was depressed. Someone suggested that John give him a call. He lept at the opportunity and they spoke for half an hour. They were both encourage afterward. He is set to share his testimony at Wed. night services at church and is open to speaking to youth groups. God has given John something to say through all of this.

About my (Phil's) nose...under general anesthetic when the ENT surgeon started working to line it back up he found a big pocket of pus and infection. He irrigated it out and sent me home. Since then there has been a fairly constant ooze of goo out of the wound (WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION YOU SAY). I'm on antibiotics that should take care of the infection but my time table is being stretched. I'm definitely tired of the bandaid on my nose being a conversation starter.

You wouldn't think that having goo coming out of the side of your nose would be a particularly spiritual experience but is has been. At the risk of appearing to be a nut-case let me share with you two encounters with God I have had because of this trial. First, on Friday night as I was watching my three daughters dance in a worship dance concert, and as I grumbled to God about the gauze on my nose, I heard God ask me if I was willing to put up with a little pus if I could know him better because of it. My heart lept YES and I began to sob. Second, the next day, after dealing with pus leaking out of my bandage while viewing at a drama with my family and going to bed early and disgusted, I awoke the next morning with a peace from God knowing that when I had learned what was necessary the wound would heal and I didn't need to worry about it any more. God doesn't waste pain of any kind. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we read the Lord's words to Paul (and me and you) "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," Then Paul responds "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2005 at 9:30 pm

Today was to be surgery day for John's left lung nodule. After discussion with John's oncologist and much prayer we decided to hold off on surgery until this nodule acts more like cancer. I am inclined to respond "THAT'S GOD" when doctors scratch their heads and are at a loss for explanations. That's the case with this nodule which inexplicably shrunk in size. I am also inclined to chose the path with "least misery factor" for John. The down side of this decision is that John had to drop out of the clinical trial he was in, but the therapy was unproven at this point and remaining on that treatment wasn't compelling enough reason to have major surgery on something that may not need to come out. Time will tell. John will have another CT scan in two months. Right now the living is good and life is uncomplicated and full of joy.

Thanks for asking about Laura's dad as well. He's recovering from his neck surgery, and walking about 40 steps with a walker now. He's bound and determined to get better! Mom and Dad have dandy around-the-clock help which has met the daily care needs for now. We praise the Lord for his provision of help.

I (Phil) am dealing with a little incident that happened more than a week ago; I broke my nose cutting down a tree. Tomorrow I will have a brief surgery to reset it. Of more concern is a persistent infection in the wound. Thanks for praying for all to go well.

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:13,14) What a great scripture to meditate on. These verses fill me with confidence and hope; they redirect my attention off the circumstances; they calm my fears. Thank you God for your scriptures.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Friday, May 6, 2005 at 9:30 pm

I had my CT scan yesterday... and I came home with good news. The nodule in my left lung was still there but it doesn't look like cancer anymore. It didn't change at all since the CT I got a month ago, right before the surgery removing the big, growing nodule from my right lung. The left-lung surgery looks like it will be canceled or at least delayed, because Dad decided that unless there is a visible, growing, metastatic tumor we won't do surgery. I probably will have to go get a CT scan every month for a while, but ... NO SURGERY ON TUESDAY!! My dad talked with my oncologist today and they have a difference of opinion about my surgery but Monday we are going to review the films with him in Indy and hopefully everyone will be in agreement after that meeting. Please pray for God's wisdom in these decisions.

Looking back on the circumstances of the last 6 weeks, I've realized how God's timing has been perfect. My first surgery was scheduled on Good Friday. It was cancelled and delayed for two weeks because I came down with a fever. I am enrolled in a clinical study that has very rigid requirements. One of the requirements is that I have a CT scan within 2 weeks before my first surgery. Since my surgery was cancelled and delayed two weeks, I had to have another CT scan, which revealed that the apparent tumor on my left lung was shrinking with no treatment at all. If I hadn't got a fever, I would have had surgery on Good Friday, started the experimental drug, and the repeat CT scan before my second surgery on the left lung would have shown that tumor shrinking. The conclusion would have been that the drug was working on a metastatic tumor and the tumor would need to be removed a month after the first surgery, according to the rules of the study I'm in.

Now it appears the nodule in my left lung is not likely cancerous and I have escaped the knife for now! I was stunned when I heard that we aren't going to do the surgery, almost as stunned as I was when I found out there was cancer in my lungs. I had begged God to take this cancer away, but I expected bad news. The cancer still might come back, but with the unknowns comes one thing I can be completely sure of: He has a plan. Thank you all so much for praying . God is good! Maybe this battle against cancer is over, maybe not, but it is God's plan that I am following (not mine).

In Christ,