Updates for March, 2005

Updates on John Chase from March and April, 2005

Posted Friday, April 22, 2005 at 10:00 pm

Well, ten days out from surgery and I am almost back to normal (or at least the way I was before I got cut open). Every time I sneeze or cough I can feel it burn right down my rib cage. I can breathe though and that is a important fact so I can't really complain. I went to see my prosthatist and he made a few adjustments on good old Wilson, it turns out that he was 1 1/2 in. too short. I must be growing. Before the surgery, I thought a lot about how God could have healed me during my CAT scan the Monday before. I mean, it would have been perfect! The day before surgery God shows his power by making my lungs clean. The doctors would scratch their heads and claim that the first scan just messed up but we would know that it was the Lord who healed me and praise him for it. One thing I learned from all this is that you can't put God in a box, and if you try, he will reveal his omnipotence and throw your plans out the window. Another thing I learned is that you can't and shouldn't try to force God into anything, saying things like, "I'll won't do this if you don't do that." is futile. Do I really think that God needs me to do anything? God doesn't need me, I need him and trying to control him is like trying to control (to borrow from C. S. Lewis) a wild lion. I wanted God to heal me, I wanted it so badly, but now that He has revealed what he wants in this situation, all I can do is submit and trust that He knows what is best for me. Thank you all so much for praying for and supporting me, please pray that my lungs heal quickly, and that the nerves in my leg (from my other surgery, April, last year) will completely regenerate (I'm starting to get some feeling back where there was none). Also pray that the tumor in my left lung that has been shrinking would completely disappear so I won't need the second surgery. I have a CAT scan on May 6 to reveal God's answer to that request.
In Christ,

Posted Friday, April 16, 2005 at 12:28 am

John got home in the late afternoon today from Indy, in significant pain in his right chest, but happy to be out of the hospital. The doctors were pleasantly surprised with how quickly he recovered from surgery. He starts an inhaled immuno-stimulant next week and has surgery on his left lung tentatively scheduled for May 10 (assuming the nodule that has already shrunk by half isn't gone by then). We'll pray for a miracle and God will do what's right. Our pastor preached on miracles last Sunday. Several statements have been rattling around in my head since then. "Times of need test the level of our trust of God. Tests are always about trust. The outcome of our test is not the point. The point is whether we will trust God regardless the outcome."

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) In response to our prayers God promises peace that defies reason. Also that same peace will guard our hearts and minds, which certainly need guarding through all this misery. The heart (seat of emotion) and the mind (seat of reason) that often fight each other, must both surrender to God's unexplainable peace. This has been our experience this week. Solid, palpable peace to the core of our beings. Peace like Altoids' candy: "Curiously strong"!

Thanks for praying....Phil

Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2005 at 3:43 pm

John was waking up at 12:30 after the 1 hour surgery. The surgeon said he was able to remove the entire mass without difficulty and he saw no other evidence of cancer. He will be in the pediatric intensive care unit overnight, then will move to a regular floor.

Thanks be to God for his mercy and peace.
Laura and Phil

Posted Monday, April 11, 2005 at 6:45 pm

God does hear and answer prayer!The results of the CT scan this afternoon were mostly encouraging. The big mass in John's right lung has grown only slightly in the last three weeks. Even more encouraging was the other mass (in the left lung) has decreased in size without treatment, all by itself! Now it is barely visible on the high-resolution CT scan. We praise God, that maybe only one surgery will be needed. That sounds like a miracle to me! Anyway, the surgery is tomorrow (8 AM) to remove the large mass in the right lung. Pray John can heal quickly, that the mass in the left lung will completely disappear, that no more masses will form and that the surgeon will be able to completely remove the big mass. Pray that John, Phil, and I can let Christ shine through us with love, joy, peace, and patience toward all the medical personnel we see this week, whatever happens.

Thank you for encouraging us with hope by praying for us.

PS John really enjoyed being in the play on Friday night. His favorite part was teasing the audience with a (scripted) fall. Many in the audience knew he has a prosthetic leg and gasped in dismay. John loved it!

Posted Saturday, April 2, 2005 at 12:30 pm

John got over his virus after four days and lots of sleep. We were able to leave on a family vacation we had planned for months, and since John's surgery was canceled we could all go together. Lots of hiking and beautiful scenery in southeastern Ohio of all places. John's attitude is good...when asked "how are you doing" he is apt to reply, "good as long as I don't think about tomorrow". Thanks for the reminder John.

Several have suggested that God intends to heal John completely and perhaps he won't need to have the surgery after all. I have assured them that John will get a chest xray before his surgery date in 10 days. Nothing would please us more if there was nothing to remove. Looking at him now, you would never guess there was something going on in his lungs. I sort of weigh-in with Martha when she said to Jesus," But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." (John 11:22) Its clear from the context that she didn't really believe Christ would raise Lazarus from the dead, although she knew he could do anything. Nevertheless he did what she didn't dare believe he would do. I know God can do anything...I'm hesitant to paint him into a corner with the statement that his intention is to completely heal John...even though I am pleading along with all of you for just that miracle. God will reveal his perfect plan in time and we surrender and believe.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Friday, March 25, 2005 at 4:00 pm

Once again God has expressed his perfect will in a way we never expected. This week several of our children have had a viral illness with cough and fever. We got to the hospital this morning for Johnny's surgery and found out that he had a temperature of 100.6. An hour later, when they were preparing to put in his IV, I asked them to recheck his temperature and it was 101.8. Within an hour we were on our way home with a new surgery date set for April 12...that's right 2 1/2 weeks from now. I can't begin to describe the mixture of emotions we are experiencing. What has God got in mind for Johnny? What is God trying to teach us?

"I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." (Psalms 40:1-3) Its interesting to see that the only thing asked of me in these verses is to wait patiently, turn to him, and cry out. No amount of struggling will get me out of the slimy pit. He's the one who will lift me out and put me on a frim place. He's the one that will put the song of praise in my mouth and cause those who watch to fear and trust Him. Because it is all about HIM. It's Friday...Sunday's coming!

Have a great Easter...I know we will...and thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Thursday, March 24, 2005 at 7:00 am

The news from Tuesday is good. John's bone scan showed no evidence of disease except for his lungs. So unless God performs a miraculous healing we are going ahead with surgery on Good Friday at 11 AM to remove the golf-ball sized tumor on his right lung. We will be in Indianapolis at St.Vincent's.

Laura's Bible study group prayed together for us Tuesday morning, and she was very encouraged. We have heard from Mexico that a group of pastors that we saw two weeks ago on a mission trip were gathering to pray for us. Last night a group of our Auburn friends gathered with us for prayer. Over the past few days many have approached Phil to say they care and are praying. Laura cried out in agony to the Lord on Monday, "Don't you care for us and our troubles?" and within 15 minutes, she was ministered to by Linda, Shindok, and Kike. When the Lord tells you to reach out to somebody who is in pain, jump on it. What a miracle it is to the suffering one when care comes out of the Heavenly blue! You are the hands and feet of Christ! And if you think the Church is a weak, boring, unproductive bunch, just go to Her for prayer when cancer hits. There is NOTHING like the strength, encouragement, and hope that comes when Christ's body gets down to business. "...the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:22,23).

Thanks for praying...Phil and Laura

Posted Monday, March 21, 2005 at 7:35 pm

John and Phil spent today in Indianapolis seeing specialists. First, we had a good report from the bone doctor who did John's surgery last April. John's leg is completely healed and feeling is slowly returning to his foot. The doctor encouraged us with a report of a patient he had that had a cancer nodule plucked out of his lung 12 years ago and has been disease free ever since.

John's oncologist (cancer doctor) has a new experimental therapy that stimulates the immune system in the lungs by inhaling a substance through a nebulizer (like asthmatic patients use). The goal is that John's own immune system would be beefed up and recognize the cancer cells and destroy them himself. The substance has shown some promise in preliminary studies and John is a good candidate. It has no side effects to speak of, and he can do the treatments at home.

We met an oncology chest surgeon (talk about specialized!) who takes out nodules all the time. He wants to clean out John's right lung first (where the larger nodule is), then a month later, do the left side. He'll take a good look during surgery to see if there are any smaller nodules that didn't show up on the CT scan, and remove any he finds.

Surgery is scheduled for Good Friday (we don't know the time yet). John's glad there's a plan and he's ready to go.

God is encouraging us with peace, hope, and confidence in his love for us. It's tempting, while lying awake in bed or staring off into space, to let ourselves imagine the worst, and try to guard ourselves for the news. And what good does that do? Instead, we need to "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5) This means obeying Christ when he says "don't worry about tomorrow" and "don't be anxious about anything." He really means it. And when we make our thoughts obedient to Christ, we find life and hope.

Thank you for standing with us at the throne of grace in prayer.

Phil and Laura

Posted Saturday, March 19, 2005 at 9:46 am

It has been a great three months since we finished John's chemotherapy. Life has been relatively normal. John has gradually gotten stronger, climbing trees, doing his family chores, "man-training" projects, catching up with school work, walking on the treadmill for exercise, Bible quizzing, running the pharmacy on our mission trip to Mexico last week, lots of smiles...now this. My heart aches with disappointment with God. Is this really necessary? Weeping, I crawl into His lap and groan.

Bottom line...do I trust God? If I can't trust Him with my boy...His boy...then I better go find a god that I can trust. "We know and rely on the love God has for us." (1 John 4:18) He may not do everything we want...he certainly wants us to tell him what we want...regardless the outcome we can trust his love.

Thanks for praying...Phil

Posted Thursday, March 17, 2005 at 8:54 pm

Well, what started as a day that would just be uncomfortable, ended as a day that destroyed my cancerlessness. This morning I was going to Dekalb Memorial Hospital for a CAT scan. After some difficulty with the IV, I finally got on the table thing and waited for the scan to finish so I could go home and start school. But when the scan ended and I walked up to dad standing in the hallway he said, "I was watching the pictures being processed, they don't look good." Suddenly, with the subtleness of a freight train, I felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I suddenly started praying that God would make it just a mess up in the CAT scan. The technician came in and started looking through the pictures. It was an obvious splotch on the scan right about the center of my right lung, he measured it as about 3 cm across. And that wasn't the only one, there was another, smaller one near the wall of my left lung. I started feeling numb, thoughts were running through my head, "Cancer? I thought it was gone! Does that mean more chemo? Why did God let this happen in my life again?" Then I re-realized the two problems with that question: why and my. Why do we ask "why"? Will knowing the answer to that question make everything better? Since I'm a Christian I have already dedicated my life to God. So It's not 'my' life, it is his to do with as he wants. I have no idea why he chose cancer in my life. But, again, those are two wrong words to use. As I started feeling self pity, a warning popped into my head that Dad had said a lot in the past 400 or so days. "Don't run to self pity, those only lead to a death trap of depression, anger, and a loss of joy." I turned the other way and started praying for strength, joy, and for his will to be carried out. On the way home I prayed and prayed. Thoughts like "God doesn't listen." or "He is just sitting out there waving a sign that says 'all your nausea and chemo was for nothing!' and snickering about my pain." seemed to fill up the airspace of my brain as quickly as I shot them down with scripture. On the way home we stopped for breakfast. I sat in front of my food praying desperately for God's grace and fighting self-pity. Suddenly, with the obviousness of a mouse squeaking 2.7 miles away, I realized that something was different. It wasn't really a change in what I felt, it was a change in focus. I felt peace. Now, as I type this I can truthfully say that I am not angry at God, I don't want what I got and if I start thinking about the future I feel worry. I can't say that I am happy about all this but I am not mad at God. We are going to see Dr. Hawk on Monday, now all I have to do is try to concentrate on today and to keep focused on God. Please pray that Dr. Hawk makes the right decisions and that when they do surgery, all of it will be taken out. Also pray that the cancer doesn't spread or grow and that I can stay focused on God instead of the future. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.
In Christ (where else would I go?)