Update for Johnny Chase

Posted Wednesday, February 9, 2005 at 8:20 pm

John is thriving. He is growing again, gaining weight, walking on the treadmill (he wants to run), back on the household chore chart, and getting caught up in school. He is getting tingling in some places on his foot that were numb. The week of skiing in Utah in early January was a blast. The advice from other amputees on the trip was to ski on one leg and use special forearm crutches fit with small skis to help with balance. He was doing black diamond runs by the end of the week and leaving his cautious old dad in the dust...make that powder.

It is such a treat to be able to live a relatively normal life again. It's hard to believe that less than 2 months ago John was still getting chemotherapy. Looking back on last year brings to mind the poem "Footprints in the Sand". The poem refers to God's promise to always walk with us through life. During some dark days of our lives it may appear that there is only one set of footprints in the sand...but that is because He is carrying us. Looking back, I can testify to God's tender care for our family.

When the active treatment phase of this cancer journey ended we entered a new phase of follow up visits and monitoring. John has tests and doctor visits late March. This phase has it's own aura of uncertainty and anticipation. The issues though are really still the same. Can I trust God? Is there any peace and joy to be found outside of complete surrender to his will? Is there anything I love more than God? Does God really love John more than I do? "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..." (Psalms 46:1,2) Enjoy each day.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Monday, December 27, 2004 at 8:20 pm

Hey, I'm done!! No more chemo! Hallelujah! My last chemo ended two weeks ago and I had my port taken out almost one week ago. I am so happy! I had an "end-of-chemo" party with the nurses at Indianapolis and I said good bye (hopefully forever). Then we had Christmas and now I am getting ready for the ski trip in January. I still have to go back every three months for a (hopefully short) checkup but it looks like we are at the end of all this. Wilson is fine (though I still limp and can't go far without a cane). Thank you all so much for praying, sending cards, calling, and encouraging me through this tough year. All I can do is thank and praise God for all he did and is continuing to on my behalf.
In Christ, (who is not going anywhere)

This has been a pretty intense year to say the least. I have often told people that John's cancer has been a great learning experience. Not one that we would have ever chosen but definitely one filled with many life lessons that have made us better people and hopefully more useful to our master...Jesus. It has been a real life test to see if our faith in Jesus works...Yes!... it not only works but it gives life...life to the full as Jesus promised. We know that this particular trial may not be over...there may be more...perhaps pain that right now we cannot bear to think of. But this I now know in full confidence...along with whatever our loving Father in heaven allows into our lives...He also gives the grace to bear it...and not just to bear it but to find intimacy with Him through it. "We know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:16)

We're not going to be posting things to the web as often since the dust in our lives is settling for now. We'll try to post some kind of update once a month or so. We can't begin to thank everyone who has upheld our family in prayer this past year...but here's a heart felt thankyou. Our family has reaped the benefits of your faithfulness in prayer.

Here's a big hug and God's blessing on you...Phil

Posted Monday, December 20, 2004 at 8:50 am

John's last week of chemotherapy went uneventfully, concluding with a party with the nurses. He gets his infusion port pulled on Wednesday and that concludes the active part of his treatment. It would be an understatement to say we are all relieved and pleased to have arrived at this point. We have all been molded by the experience. Thankyou for walking with us and praying

"Endure hardship..." (Hebrews 12:7) I was interested to find out that the word endure literally means to "to remain under". It implies remaining under its force, embracing it, allowing it to do its work. When I encounter hardship my gut tells me to run from it, fix it, and if I can't do that then distract myself from it. God wants me to not waste it. It has a purpose. It is for my good (verse 10) and God is showing me he loves me (verse 6). It will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace (verse 11) if I will let it train me. I can testify that rotten as it is that my son got cancer...the experience has produced a bountiful harvest in our lives.

Thnaks for praying...Phil

Posted Sunday, December 12, 2004 at 5:15 pm

John continues to do well. He had a CT scan of his chest Friday and it showed no evidence of cancer. He gets around mostly carrying his cane now. He has his last round of chemotherapy this week. He is smiling alot right now, partly because he just got a new Lord of the Rings computer game, but mostly because of the Lord in his life.

"Endure hardship as discipline...God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on , however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:7-11) God's discipline (literally child training) doesn't feel good at the time, in fact given the choice I would quickly choose comfort and ease over discipline any day. But God's discipline is designed to lead to holiness...if I would value holiness as God does, I would gladly embrace discipline...hardship. Thankfully, like a good parent, God doesn't wait for me to ask for discipline...He knows what I need. He will also see to it that a harvest of righteousness and peace will be produced if I allow myself to be trained by it.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Sunday, December 5, 2004 at 9:25 pm

John had an uneventful week of chemo and got out Thursday A.M. His nurse told John that he had broken a record for her when he drank in excess of 10 liters (about 2.5 gallons) in a 24 hour period. John is convinced that if he drinks more water he will get out of the hospital faster since he can't leave until a certain drug level in his blood gets below 0.1 units. It seems to work! He is walking with the assistance of only a cane...his prosthetist told him to get rid of the crutches because he was leaning on them too much. Each day his leg gets stronger and his gait more natural. He is one happy kid and quickly points to God as the reason.

"The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble." (Proverbs 19:23) John is such a graphic example of this verse to me. Here is a kid who has every reason to be unhappy with the cards he has been dealt in life. Yet he is a smiling, joyful, happy teenager...content, and seemingly untouched by his obvious trouble. Oh God, our creator and sustainer...thank you for giving us life.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Sunday, November 28, 2004 at 6:15 pm

John is up and about and doing well. "My new leg hurts in a wonderful way." He can walk accross a room without help but otherwise he uses one crutch for support and balance. It will take awhile for the strength in his leg to come back from disuse. His foot was too swollen to get into the prosthesis yesterday from overdoing it...all a normal part of the rehab process. This week is the next to the last chemotherapy. He is handling this stuff well with no mouth sores, good energy level, and only mild nausea for a few days. His biggest problem is boredom in the hospital and having to do school because he feels well enough to do it. We have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) The refining process is the method of removing impurities from material to make it more useful and valuable. It requires time and heat. God is described in this verse as a refiner. He refines me and purifies me with time and adversity. How does the refiner know when the metal is purified? When he can see the reflection of his face in it. This gives meaning and purpose to the adversity that God allows my way...that I might more clearly reflect the face of my Lord.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Monday, November 22, 2004 at 8:00 pm

Wilson is here! After four days of chemo I went to see my prosthetist on Friday and he said I could bring Wilson home. It feels so good to stand and walk. My muscles aren't strong enough to let me walk distances without crutches but I can take a few steps without them. It is exasperating when I try to climb the stairs because I can't bend my leg very much. I also can't walk on Wilson very long without my ankle aching. But besides that I am one happy chap. Thank you for praying and writing. Please pray that my muscles strengthen quickly.
In Christ

Posted Saturday, November 13, 2004 at 11:02 pm

Hey everyone! I got to walk on Friday! My prothetist finished most of my leg and let me try it on. I got about 1/2 a step without crutches, my muscles weren't strong enough. With crutches I was able to take two laps down the hall. Then my muscles were killing me so I tried just standing. It felt so good without crutches, all I could do was to wave my arms (they were finally free) and smile. It was so encouraging to see my leg (Wilson) and try it out. I wasn't allowed to take Wilson home because my prothetist had to do the final touches. I get to take it home next friday after Chemo. I can't wait! Thank you all so much for praying and encouraging me.
In Christ,

Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2004 at 2:00 pm

John's counts are back up with no sign of infection or mouth sores...thank you Lord. Friday he is due to get his leg...lots of anticipation. John is cheerful and plugging away at school...he's only 2 weeks behind.

"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalms 46:10) What a great verse to meditate on as my mind swirls with the complications of life. Take a deep breath, slow down, rest, and be still. God is consistent, God is capable, God is good, and God is enough.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Monday, November 1, 2004 at 6:00 pm

John got out of the hospital Saturday morning. He hasn't vomitted since he got home and is feeling good now. We went for another fitting for his leg and it will probably be ready in two weeks. This week his immunity will bottom out again and we're praying for no mouth sores or infection. He continues to rely on the Lord; this was best exempified by a conversation that happened in the hospital last week. For most of John's stays at the hospital he is heavily sedated to help with the nausea...to the point where when he is conscious, he can barely talk. A male nurse who has cared for John during many of his chemo stays was saying that John's personal strength has gotten him through this and will serve him well in life. John replied through half-opened eyes and with slurred speech..."It's Jesus that gives me strength".

"...But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." (2 Corinthians 1:9) Isn't that what hardship is all about? God allows it into our lives, and when we get to the end of ourselves we learn to rely on Him. My natural bend is to rely on myself. I am learning, because I have no other reasonable choice, to rely only on God...who raises the dead. I guess he can handle it.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Sunday, October 24, 2004 at 9:00 pm

John had two appointments to work on fitting his prosthesis this week...hopefully he will be walking again by Thanksgiving. Chemo starts up again this week. This is the last hard one, to be followed by three easier ones and then he'll be done (around Christmas). One day at a time is harder as we get closer to the end but it is so important. Let us not wish a single day of our lives away since each one is precious and tomorrow comes with no guarantees. Great life lesson. John continues to putter along good naturedly and cheerful.

"For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cointhians 1:20) If I am disappointed in God it is likely that I have set my expectations on something that God never promised me in the first place. God only promises me what will bring glory to him, and he will not fail to keep every one. In Christ all God's promises are Yes and Amen to his glory...which is after all why I was created and continue to exist.

Thanks for your prayers...Phil

Posted Monday, October 18, 2004 at 3:00 pm

John has weathered another week with no immunity without infection or mouth sores...thank God and thanks for your prayers. Tomorrow we travel to Michigan to start fitting for a prosthesis. A foundation has offered him an all expense paid trip to Utah for a week of skiing in January so we are hoping to fast track this process so he can build up his strength enough to go. No medical stuff this week...chemo again next week. John remains upbeat and cheerful.

"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5) Rejoicing in suffering can only be possible with the proper focus. Focusing on the suffering only makes me miserable, disappointed, and depressed. Focusing on the results of suffering...perseverance, character, hope...does not disappoint because it leads me to the love of God poured out into my heart by the Holy Spirit. Instead of "Why God" I exclaim "Wow God!"

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Saturday, October 9, 2004 at 10:00 am

John got back from the hospital yesterday morning...happy to be home and washed out. He'll sleep much of the weekend, get IVs at night to keep him hydrated, and hopefully perk up by Monday. The surgeon released him to get his leg. He said most kids aren't ready until they are 9 to 12 months post-op but after only 6 months John's bones are completely healed (even with chemo) and his muscles are strong enough to support him....go God! The fitting process takes a while and we have to work around chemo so we are hoping to have him on two legs by Christmas. Pray for God's protection from infection, mouth sores, other ill effects of the chemo. I was telling John about an aquaintance who got cancer and was giving up on God...he replied,"why would they bite the hand that feeds them?" Isn't that the truth!

"These (trials of many kinds) have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:7) Trials are meant to test our faith. If our faith is genuine it will survive the test and result in praise, glory, and honor for us...?...no...for Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). This, for the Christian, gives suffering meaning and purpose.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Sunday, October 4, 2004 at 9:30 pm

John spent the weekend with his brother at college. They both have bald heads...one from chemo and the other to support his brother. They have been messing arround in the dorm and playing computer games. Tomorrow its back to business with 5 days of chemo in the hospital followed by the usual. God has been so merciful to protect John from infections, mouth sores, depression, and a host of other miseries. I'm confident your prayers play a part in those (and other) blessings. Tomorrow we also meet with John's surgeon...hoping he will tell John to go buy a leg.

"He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." (2 Corinthians 5:15) Why do I resent trials in my life? It's because I have not yet completely given up living for myself. Yet one reason Christ died was that I would live for him and not for myself. Trials are good at revealing my heart and they lead me to repentance and a heightened desire to live for Christ. Frankly, it's too painful to endure a trial living for myself. Its through this kind of reflection that I can actually be thankful to God for trials because I can see how those trials are replacing my old self-satisfied religion with passionate relationship with Christ.

Thanks for your prayers...Phil

Posted Tuesday, September 28, 2004 at 4:00 pm

I am doing well, my blood counts are back up, nausa is gone, no mouth sores or signs of infection, and Jesus is close to me. I can't remember much from my last chemo, thank's to Atavan. Dad said I was reading a book, but when I opened the book yesterday I couldn't understand the plot and had to start from the beginning (again... or so I am told). I looked at my laptop and couldn't understand where all the new programs came from. But the worst was when I came to my senses I couldn't remember that Marta had lost her appendix. Anyway, thanks for praying and sending cards. Please pray that my surgeon will let me get an artificial leg the next time I see him (Oct. 4) so that I won't have to be "Hopping' on The Promises" anymore.
In Christ,

Posted Friday, September 24, 2004 at 3:13 pm

Laura spoke about our experience with John at Grabill Missionary Church on August 22, 2004. To read the text of her talk, click here.

Posted Friday, September 17, 2004 at 6:00 pm

John got home from the hospital this morning. He mostly slept through the week to control his vomiting...he will be on IVs for the next few days until he can keep stuff down adequately. This hospital visit was a little more stressful than most because John's younger sister Marta had her appendix taken out Monday night. Everything went smoothly, but sitting in a hospital 120 miles away with John while Laura helped Marta get taken care of was a bit stressful. Marta has bounced back quickly. Please pray for John to be free from mouth sores, infection, a quick recovery of his white blood count, and continued joy in Christ.

"But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out ,'Lord, save me!'" (Matthew 14:30) Peter was doing well walking on the water until he started to focus on the wind and waves. When things were happening Monday I did fine as long as I kept my minds-eye focused on Jesus and his loving care for me and my family. I had nothing to fear and could rest in peace and confidence in my Lord. When I did allow my mind to venture into focusing on "the storm" I was quickly reminded by a fearful spirit that I am much happier and better off focusing on the goodness of the Lord. I know and rely on the love God has for me (1 John 4:16).

Thank you for praying...Phil

Posted Thursday, September 9, 2004 at 10:00 pm

Great news on the CT scan of John's chest today. Two areas of concern on his last xray are unchanged and probably are not cancerous. They will need to be monitored over time, but as long as they don't grow they are probably nothing...goofy blood vessels, scar tissue, or whatever. What an answer to prayer! This was a nice dose of good news as we head back into another week of chemo starting Monday...back to the nasty stuff for three rounds...low blood counts, vomiting, low energy. We appreciate your prayers and encouragement.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalms 107:1) With good news and answer to prayer it is easy to give thanks to God and acknowledge his love. But good news or bad we will give him thanks...for he is good...he is worthy of our thanks and praise.

Thanks for your prayers...Phil

Posted Friday, September 3, 2004 at 9:06 pm

Hey everybody, I've had a couple of great days. I escaped early, from the hospital that is, yesterday. Dad says I "drank like a fish" and washed that poison out in record time. My doctor came in Thursday morning and asked if he could grant me a wish, what would it be. I thought for about .003 seconds and replied, "to leave this prison". He answered, "your wish is my command." My drug level was .1 (right at the limit). I got home and felt sick all Thursday but at least I was back in my domain. Today I woke up early and started school. At noon mom called me down stairs. I was met there by two volunteers from Make-A-Wish toting a pizza party and a new laptop computer. That made my month. This thing is a beast, so an appropriate name applies...Sauron. (If you haven't seen The Lord of The Rings you won't get it)

I have six chemos left. Next week I will have a Cat scan to check on the nodules in my lungs. Most of them were gone at the last check in April. Please pray that they are all gone now. Thank God for no mouth sores, swimming (mom calls me the waterbug), a new computer, good spirits, and peace. Thank you all for praying.
In Christ,