Justin Tyler Cude was diagnosed with AML Leukemia on Feb. 11, 2003 (He was 13 years old.) The treatment plan for his type of leukemia was one of the harshest combination of chemotherapy drugs one could endure. After completing the protocol, Justin's body developed a severe reaction. On July 12, 2003 he went into severe distress with his blood pressure plummeting to 30 over 19. It all happened so fast. Within 5 minutes, his body shut down. He was placed in ICU status. The doctor said that on a scale from 1-10 Justin came as close to death as a 9.9. This is the episode Justin refers to on the video to the right. Click here to read more about this episode beginning on July 12, 2003. It was an intense time as we waited at death's door pleading with God to spare Justin's life. God literally rescued Justin from the grave. He enjoyed returning to 8th grade and graduating Junior High. However, his leukemia resurfaced again on October 19, 2004 only a few months into his freshman year in high school. His only chance of survival now was to have a bone marrow transplant. God intervened and a perfect donor match was found on Thanksgiving of 2004. She was a female donor who was 31 years old. She does not live in the United States. International bone marrow law says that after 2 years from the date of transplant, if she chooses to reveal her identity the family can know who she is and thank her. They are very much looking forward to doing this....The two year anniversary will be Dec. 16th 2006.
Justin received his bone
marrow transplant on Dec. 16th 2004. Though his recovery was hard, God
daily directed Justin and his family through all of the emotional and
physical challenges. On Sept 12, 2005 a mysterious infection invaded
his lungs. He was placed on a ventilator and placed back into ICU status.
His parents watched as his body weight dropped to 80 lbs. His lungs
became purple, diseased and spongy. The doctors were baffled as to what
was happening to Justin. He continued to decline until God intervened
and he MIRACOUSLY turned around. Click
here to read more about this incident beginning on Sept. 12, 2005
and see again that God faithfully rescued Justin when all medical hope
had run out.
Mike, Barb, Justin & Carissa
Bracelets to raise awareness for bone marrow donation
Thursday, July 24, 2008 2:30 PM
My name is Chris Kurtz. I used to attend Word of Grace in Mesa. When they had the Bone Marrow drive for Justin I was tested. I donít even remember how long ago that was. I was called once before to have a blood test, was told I was a match then never heard anything. A little over a month ago I was contacted again. This time they took lots of blood (seemed like a lot) and it turns out Iím a match. I will be going in for my donation sometime in early August. Please pray for me and the woman that I will be donating for. Hope all is going well with Justin; I know he was always on our prayer list!
Hope this finds you all well.
Whidbey Island WA.
Sunday, May 25, 2008 3:57 PM
Justin graduated from Valley Christian High School on May 23, 2008. What an experience for all of us to watch him walk across the platform and receive his diploma. He graduated on time with the same class he started kindergarten with. He had to work extra hard the last two years to make up the school work that he missed. On May 23rd, he enjoyed the rewards of that accomplishment.
May 23, 2008 Graduation
May 23, 2008 Graduation
Like all high school seniors, Justin has been contemplating what his next steps should be.
With much prayer and watching God open up doors for him, Justin was accepted into a wonderful program at a small college in McPherson, Kansas. They are one of the only schools that offer a Bachelor of Science degree in an intensive Automotive Restoration Technology Program. They only take 40 students a year and Justin is lucky enough to be one of those students. There is no doubt that he will bring with him an enormous amount of passion. He was able to tour the school earlier this month and participate in the annual car show that the program puts on. You can check out their web site at www.mcpherson.edu
This is a wonderful opportunity for Justin and we are pleased with his choice. The school is located about 50 miles North of Wichita, tucked into a rural environment which is so Justin.
God has been good to our family. He has answered our prayers and allowed us to experience these moments with our first-born child. There are no words to say....just a sovereign silence and awe at how small we are in comparison to how mighty God is.
Blessing to you all,
Tuesday, May 29,
2007 2:40 PM
So many of you have written, desperate for the news of what it was like to meet Ina Well, here it is in a nutshell -- ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!! BEYOND OUR EXPECTATIONS!!
Here is an article from the AZ Republic that was printed on Saturday, May 21st.
Ina and her mom, Christa, are lovely, gracious people. We enjoyed getting to know them and driving them around our beautiful state. We kept to our itinerary, as was outlined in our last update. Our connection could not have been any better than it was. Neither Ina nor her mom appeared to have any jet lag. They tired a little towards the evenings, but much of that was due mainly to how hard they were working mentally to speak English. They did so well communicating with us!! Ina was gracious in dealing with all the attention from the media, from our church, from our school, and from all of our friends. It truly gave a sense of closure to the community at large. Meeting her meant a lot to so many, and absolutely left me speechless. She was gracious when strangers hugged her to thank her, even though this is not really done in her culture. She received so much love from America -- at least from our state of Arizona. Mike is a traveling salesman in the state of Arizona, selling souvenirs to the tourist industry. Because of that connection, every place we took her, people knew of our story and thanked her; from the Grand Canyon in the northern part of the state, to Tombstone in the southern part. She even received hugs that were given to her over counters and cash registers!
What a great sport she was too!! Mike had her arrested at our Wild West town of Rawhide. Coincidentally, her arresting sheriff spoke German fluently. Go figure!! It was all in good fun. But this guy had her sing a German folk song to get out of jail. She did -- and well! She had the whole place clapping along and cheering her on.
We laughed a lot together and we also shed some tears together. Ina truly learned that she saved Justin's life. It is one thing to be told that, and quite another to see the pictures of him so ill and to spend time with his family. Somehow that made it more personal, and a place of connection. Carissa just loves her!! Well, I think it is true to say we all do!! Attached are some pictures that were taken at Valley Christian High School. Justin's Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt had come in from CA to join us for the celebration.
We will always be thankful to the staff at City of Hope for underwriting this incredible opportunity. We will also be thankful to Ina and Christa, who endured all the travel and the fear of coming, to make this happen.
Thank you for arranging this magnificent experience of meeting Ina and Christa. Wow!! It was just beautiful! Bless them, Lord as they settle back home into their routines in Augsburg. Our lives are changed forever because of this gift of life from Ina Sondershaus, and from our recent meeting. Allow both of our stories to increase donor awareness. Allow it to remove the fear of the actual donation and let others see the beauty of a restored life through Justin. We pray for second chances for many other lives...
In Jesus Name,
Friday, April 20,
2007 12:10 PM
I have not updated in awhile because I have been letting the news of our donor settle in. This has been a moment in the history of our family that we will not soon forget. Not only do I have a picture and a name...but soon I will have a neck to hug too.
The City of Hope has surprised us!!! They are hosting Ina and her Mom Christa by flying them here to America to meet Justin and our family. She will be flying in a few days early and be introduced to us at a survivor celebration luncheon that will be held on May 18th. This news was incredible!! They are paying for all of her expenses and hosting her for six days. I want to thank City of Hope for doing this....you guys have not idea how much this opportunity means to our family. They had been working with Ina to get all of the specifics worked out before they told us. I want to also thank Ina's place of employment H & M, Hennes & Mauritz Co. and Ina's new boss, Andrea Peter-Huber, for granting her this time off. The hospital is working on some PR exposure to bring more public awareness to bone marrow donation. We are hopeful that the exposure will be in both countries simultaneously.
My very dear friend, Monica Boutin, is fluent in German and has also been granted days off from work to help with interpretation. A big thank you to her new boss, Kelly Rafferty, for allowing this. Your generosity will allow us to be better hosts and make our international guests feel comfortable communicating with us.
We have made some plans which include a day trip to the Grand Canyon. We will drive up through Sedona and Williams and show them the beauty of the Southwest. We will be introducing Ina to our home church on Sunday, May 20th. This will be a great opportunity to bring closure. I remember with great awe how hard they worked to find a donor. They hosted one of the largest bone marrow drives ever in our state and registered 600 people in one location. Though none of them were matches for Justin.....at least six that I know of have told me they were a match for another. The Bone Marrow Registry contacted them months later and they responded just like our precious donor Ina did. We have lots of other things we will do with them and places we will take them so that will go back to Augsburg transformed.......wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots and whistling the theme of the Wild Wild West.
Justin is doing great!! All of his blood work is great!! He feels super and really happy..... maybe because there is a new girl in his life. Kelsi Sperry is her name and she is a delight. I have attached a picture of her below at our family Easter get together. Her parents are allowing her the time off of school to come to the celebration as well as themselves. We appreciate their support.
Justin had an English assignment back in March to write a poem about how he sees himself in 2007....his junior year in high school. I wanted to share it with full dedication to Ina Sondershaus for without her this poem could never have been written. Blessings to you Ina....we look forward to meeting you.
"SELF IN 2007"
do you see?
perch in my branches, as the winds
seasons change and I fight for each breath,
do you see?
written by Justin Cude March 28, 2007
Thank you for working all of this out for Ina and Christa to come to America. I always wanted the opportunity to meet her but, never did I imagine it would be so soon. As we both sit with anticipation for this upcoming event, I ask that whatever is told of our story that it will have a great impact on registering others with the Bone Marrow Registry. Let there be a bell of hope ringing throughout both of our countries and let there be many other lives saved through this story of bone marrow transplantation.
In Jesus Name,
22, 2007 6:41 PM
HERE IS THE UPDATE WE HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!!
Our donor agreed to reveal her name and identity to the Bone Marrow Registry and they forwarded it on to us......on Valentine's Day. I couldn't think of a better day to celebrate this knowledge than on the day we honor those we love. Even though I have never met her, I can honestly say, I love her!! How can you not love someone who gives life back to your baby.
With her permission, her name is Ina Sondershaus and she lives in Augsburg, Germany. I have been approached by several people offering their fluency in German to help us in communicating with her, but we have already exchanged several emails and I can tell you this....she writes English very well and communication is not an issue.
I have included two pictures of her. She is a real beauty!! She loves to travel and has already been to America. She traveled from New York to LA in 3 weeks several years ago. She also has done quite a bit of traveling around Europe, Spain and London.
We look forward to mailing her a box of our bone marrow awareness bracelets. I told her that she is the star of our show and we want everyone to know it so that others may become motivated to register with the Bone Marrow Registry and save lives.
There is a group of 3 women in their middle 30's who exercise at my gym. I was intrigued with their group because they speak German to each other. It turns out that they have recently transferred to the States with their husbands jobs and found each other through the internet. Last year, I told them about our story. Today one of them told me that our story has motivated her to sign up to become a donor. Wow!! How cool is that!!
Justin is doing amazingly!! I promised an update on the dinner he cooked for the girls. He and his friend Nate cooked a fabulous meal. The girls came over during the preparation portion to get the full effect. The menu consisted of spaghetti pie (like lasagne), salad, garlic bread and a fabulous mud pie for dessert. There was lots of laughter and little food left. They were actually quite impressed.
Thank you for Ina. Thank you for helping her to donate her cells two years ago. I noticed that she did that during her birthday which is Dec. 10th. Does this get anymore selfless......It sure brings a portion of our story to closure a bit. One day, I pray, that You would arrange for us to travel over to her homeland and meet her and her family. I ask for the privilege of hugging her neck and showing her my appreciation. Bless her Lord!! Bless her....let her see for herself Your Goodness in her life.
In Jesus Name,
Click the photos to view them
08, 2007 5:23 PM
Justin has been doing quite well these last few weeks. Though he doesn't necessarily enjoy having the phlebotomies, they seem to be helping him immensely. For the last three weeks, all of his blood counts, including the liver enzymes, have been in the normal range. This is the first time in several years that everything inside of him is working in harmony.
It also appears that he is growing taller too. Again, we haven't seen any stature difference in Justin for over two years. These are all such positive changes. Maybe we all should go get a blood cleansing.
He was thrilled to be nominated for Jr. Winter Attendant but, the crown went to his friend Stephen Small.
He has been going in early most mornings for extra help on his Alegbra II math and it has paid off. On this last test, not only did he get 100%, but he was the only one in all of the Alegbra II classes that got a perfect score.
He really has been enjoying himself these last few weeks as well. He enjoys just hanging out with friends, riding his bike, and he even hosted a Super Bowl Party. Of course, he and another friend lost a bet to two girls because the Bears lost. Now, they are responsible for cooking these two lovely ladies dinner. So, Saturday night you will find them in my kitchen...more on that next update.
It is great to see Justin enjoying himself and finding renewed strength. Thank you for his lovely Algebra teacher, Mrs. Dyer, and for all of the inspiration she pours into him. Success looks good on him Lord and we are so thankful to be moving in all of these positive directions. I pray for this generation that Justin represents. I ask You to help these young people to intimately know You and the Power of Your Resurrection. Let them see Your Power working in their world and please help them believe that You are God and besides You there is no other. I pray that they would believe Your Word to be the absolute truth and that You are always available to give guidance and walk this life out with them. You are a God who picks up our slack and lends vision to each generation. Please let them see that You are the same, yesterday, today and forever. That there is no shadow of turning with you. You will not turn a deaf ear to the particular issues and cries their generation faces. We will believe You to do great exploits through their passions that will cause Your Name to be exalted upon the earth.
In Jesus Name,
13, 2007 10:02 PM
Welcome to the New Year of 2007!!!
Justin ended 2006 with a bellyache... a big one. It required a cat scan and a gastric biopsy to find out what was causing him pain and loss of appetite. Poor guy!! The doctors found 3 ulcers, a gall stone the size of a marble, an irritated esophagus, and more serious Graft vs Host hiding out in his intestines and an iron count in his blood 12x higher than what is healthy. They had to increase his medication immediately and begin a phlebotomy. A phlebotomy is a fancy word for extraction of blood. He has to have weekly extractions until the doctors can get his iron count down into the normal ranges. High iron count is a very serious complication that can actually cause damage to internal organs. The stomach problems were a result of this. We remain hopeful that long term damage has not occurred and that Justin will respond favorably to the phlebotomy. He is in need of our prayers.
Despite this setback, he did return to school for the 2nd semester of his junior year. He was even nominated for Junior Class Winter Formal attendant. We don't know if he actually won yet though. That will come on a later note.
Justin will turn 17 years old this week!! Yup!! On Jan. 18, 2007, he will be all of 17 yrs. This is amazing to us and we cherish the opportunity to celebrate with him.
Other than that, we still have not heard anything back from our donor. Hopefully, one day, we will!!! He was a guest of Red Bull to the Supercross show. He went with his dad and they had a wonderful time. Thank you Red Bull Co.!!!!!!
I will close our update as we always do, with our hearts turned upward to our Lord who gives us strength for each day.
Justin's stomach pain came without warning, as did all of the other complication that ensued. It has been hard to bear up under all the suffering he has been through, let alone watch him be in more pain. It gives us strength to know that You have gone before him and have carried every one of his heartaches and You provide a way of escape for him. Thank you for speaking to us through Pastor Kinnaman's message this week . You reminded us that Your promises in Isaiah 43 bring comfort for our pain. You told us in the beginning verses to not be afraid. I think You told us that, because You know that in our human frailty,fear would be our initial reaction. You reminded us, that first and foremost, You created Justin. You eloquently quoted in verses 1-3 that You have formed him, redeemed him, and not only that, but You have called him by his name and that he belongs to You. You made us a promise that when we would walk through any difficulty that You would be there with us. So we look for You in this circumstance. You said in verse 18-21 that You were about to do something new and "now" it would spring up. You told us to look for a river in the desert.....an analogy of provision right smack in the middle of our dry, barren circumstance. So, Lord we are looking to You for provision. We pray for this phlebotomy to have a positive impact on Justin's quality of life. I ask that his hemoglobin would respond to a normal iron count and that every organ in his body would be spared damage. You are the Lord, and You create provision in the midst of dry circumstances. I ask for Your Hand of blessing upon Dr. Schwartz, who led by Your wisdom and knowledge, identified this underlying problem in Justin's body. You saw this happening secretly inside of his body and connected us to this man to bring it out into the open. We are so thankful Lord. You said that You would leave us with a peace inside. The kind of peace that is undisturbed no matter what is happening and grants a posture of rest and a composure of faith. We believe that You are working all things out for our good......so we will rest and we will listen for Your still small voice.
In Jesus Name,
07, 2006 1:00 PM
Justin is doing really well!! His last blood check indicated all normal ranges. The graft vs host in his mouth is responding to the medication and beginning a decline of it's intensity. Eating is getting better and not as painful for him. However, it is still present, so the doctor is going to keep the levels of his medication the same until after the holidays. Ultimately, the long term goal is to get Justin completely off of any and all medication, but we have to let his body determine if and when that is a possibility.
He has been sporting a cast on his left wrist these days. Yup....two weeks ago he took a tumble off of his bike actually flying over the handlebars. (I do better not knowing these details.) He has a fracture and wears it as a badge of honor. There are risks with motocross even for those who have not endured Justin's medical treatment. However, in Justin's case the risks are at a much greater stake as the medication he takes can interfere with bone density, etc. He passionately loves motocross and will endure the pain of broken bones to continue riding. This has to be one of the hardest things for my mother's heart...... to look the other way, knowing the risks, but, at the same time embrace my son's passion.
Dec. 16th is just around the corner.....9 days to be exact! Justin will celebrate his 2nd re-birthday with his new cells on that day and we can legally have the identity of our donor revealed. We've already filed the paperwork on our end.....so the rest is up to the Bone Marrow Registry and our donor. We'll just remain hopeful that the expression of our gratitude will fall upon her ears soon.
Carissa is doing great!
She completed cheering for the football season and has moved on to basketball.
She enjoys the game of basketball a bit more as she use to play it. The
squad has their regional competition on Dec. 16th.....so that day will
be pretty special at our house.
We are so proud of her. She is the sweetest......I am glad that God has blessed my mother's heart with entrusting me with my beautiful daughter Carissa.
We've updated the top of the site with our new Christmas picture. We are working on making some changes to the site and will be giving it a new look for the New Year. If there are any web site designers out there who want to help guide us through the process.....let us know
We wish each of you a blessed Christmas and a safe and happy holiday. We will plan on checking back in with you after the 1st of the year...barring any great news flash on the donor or an unexpected setback.
Until then, smile often, laugh a lot, and enjoy life!!
Thank you for this season of celebration. We are celebrating the powerful arrival of Your Birth...the glorious indication that You would come to rescue us. In that lowly manager You laid.... there You were.....God in the flesh......dwelling among us. As with any baby, You must have been beautiful. I can envision You looking around that stable with trusting doe-like eyes that must have melted the hearts of Mary and Joseph with an instant bond of love. Your arrival was finally upon them but, little did they know that You had a destiny that would rock not only their world, but every generation that would come after them. We embrace Your destiny..we celebrate it...and we are also humbled by it. I will never understand the extent of Your love for mankind that motivated You to leave Your heavenly abode. Knowing all along what You would have to shoulder during Your earthly journey. Father, without that sacrifice, our hearts would have had to endure this pain of Justin's health alone....Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit that You gave us when You left....to comfort us and guide us and walk this journey with us. You are Emmanuel, "God With Us." and You are the "God in Us." There is no greater celebration than that.....Happy Birthday, Lord.
In Jesus Name,
05, 2006 8:41 PM
Since our last update something very significant has occurred.....Justin has returned to the track and is back riding his bike. WOW!! He has waited so long for this to happen. He looks so happy being back out doing what he loves to do......ride!
He is still diligently working on gaining weight, but it's proving to be a work in progress. He is showing an increase upward be it ever so slowly.
The graft vs host he has been dealing with in his mouth is still there. Once it appears inside the moist area of the mouth, it takes awhile for it to calm back down. What happens, is the mouth cells erupt in ulcers on the tongue and on the inside of the mouth. His face even swelled up a couple of weeks ago with one of them. They look painful and can interfere with chewing, which of course makes eating more painful. We are happy to report his mouth is getting better. We are thankful for the wisdom of his doctor and the medication that they have to deal with this. What a balancing act this all becomes after awhile........
His report card was beautiful. We are so proud of him. So as you can see, Justin is doing well and enjoying health and strength.
The stores are being decorated for Christmas and the sounds of the holidays are beginning to be heard. This means that Christmas is right around the corner and so is our opportunity to thank our donor. We have 38 days before we can legally know her name. It may not happen exactly in 38 days because, she has to agree to reveal her identity. But once she does (if she does)......our world will expand and shrink all at the same time. We will keep you informed on any news we get. Hopefully, we will also get a picture of her we can post on the web site.
It is hard to believe that two years ago she endured the process of donating her cells to a complete stranger. She gave so selflessly never knowing if her sacrifice would ultimately heal her intended recipient. She only knew that a 14 yr old boy needed her help to even have a fighting chance to live. We all held on to HOPE and hope is what has brought us to this place. What a powerful emotion hope is.......
I have just finished reading "90 minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper. In summary, it is about a Baptist pastor who gets into a horrific car accident in Texas while returning from a pastoral leadership conference. For 90 minutes he is declared dead with a tarp covering his mangled body. What he describes in this book of those 90 minutes gives a supernatural understanding to those of us still on the earth....of what awaits us. It has renewed in me an eternal perspective of our time here. We can get so caught up in life and the issues of life that we forget what Jesus promised us, He has already gone before us and prepared a place for us in Heaven and in that place where He is, we will one day join HIM. Heaven is a real place....a perfect place.....a sinless place.....a place that gives us HOPE to live out the days of our lives here with our eyes on that reward. If you have not yet read the book, I would encourage you to do so.
Thank you for HOPE. You left each of us with hope to help us carry on through our days here on earth. Give each of us an eternal perspective of just how short our time on earth really is in contrast to spending eternity in Your Presence. Thank you for Don Piper and for his story. Thank you for the power of prayer that transformed his life and gave us a glimpse of the kind of eternity that awaits us all. You haven't left us here alone. We each have a part of Your Plan to complete before we actually touch Your nail-scarred hands. Help us to be about Your business....
In Jesus Name,
03, 2006 2:44 PM
Here it is the beginning of October and Fall is in the air....sort of. Here in Arizona we are experiencing a pleasant dip in temperature in the early mornings and late evenings, but what we are really looking forward to is the daily triple digits being replaced soon.
Justin continues to do well. He has handled the decline off his steroids with relative ease. Thank you for praying for that specific prayer request. As his body adjusts to all of the declining levels of medication, it is not unusual to experience a see-saw reaction. The graft vs host that has been in his mouth has increased in its intensity. Again, it is nothing alarming, but the doctor did make an incremental adjustment in his rejection drug until it calms down again.
He continues to patiently wait for Dr. Schriber's permission to ride his dirtbike again. In the interim, he is trying real hard to put on a few pounds. Some of the football players at school are giving him ideas of what they did to get ready for football. There is an art of what to eat and when to eat it. I don't know if this is genetic or if his medication races his metabolism, but the struggle for each pound is always present.
The lst quarter school report cards are due out in two weeks. More on that in the next update........For now, he is doing great! To date, he is pulling all A's and B's.
We continue to enjoy everyday we have been given and we try to count our blessings instead of keeping a number on our losses. Life is so fragile....we can be going through strong seasons where we feel good and nothing major is upsetting our routines and then there are other times when the faith we hold so dear is firmly tested and tried. My prayer today is that during those seasons of testing that we would remind ourselves that we are not as alone as we feel. The Lord promised that His Holy Spirit would guide us, cry with us, cheer us on, and never leave us 24 hours of everyday. We know Him as the "Healing Balm of Gilead," and "The Bright and Morning Star,". He prays for us and carries us when tears burn from our eyes and when sobs so deep choke us and take our breath away. Even then He is the Lord!!! He is ever present in times of trouble........just reach out and cry out to Him!!
We do reach out and cry out for You.....Take hold of our hands and never let us go. Thank you for going before us and preparing a place of eternal rest for our souls. Our destinies are providentially ordained by You. We can trust and rest knowing that You are working all things out for good. We pray for Justin as he is a wonder of Your miraculous power to behold. Your grace has been more than sufficient for him. Your strong right arm caught him when he was plummeting down and sentenced to die. We interecede for him that with each bite of food that the calories will be processed correctly by his digestive system and stored for healthy benefits. We ask You to help him to gain weight. We pray for this graft vs host in his mouth and ask that You would restore him. We humbly ask all these things but mostly that our prayers would be uttered from a heart that is conscious of Your Will. You are Lord and we are not. We are bowed down in reverence to Your Name.
In Jesus Name,
02, 2006 2:32 PM
Both Justin and Carissa are 3 weeks into this new school year. I find my days are not as consumed with driving ether of them around, as Justin takes the lead in this area now.
Justin continued to handle the decline off of his anti-rejection drug successfully this past month. The doctor has been pleased with the numbers of his blood counts and chemistry holding stable. So pleased, that he feels confident enough to also begin another decline. Justin will be slowly taken off the steroids that he has been on for the past 2 years. This is another big step and brings him much closer to being free of any and all medication. This decline is significant because it will be the last one. This can have a profound effect on his joints. Since he has had to take the steroids for such a prolonged period, Justin's ability to make cortisol has been suppressed. Cortisol is a natural inflammatory agent that our bodies produce as a healing agent. So during this transition, Justin may experience discomfort to varying degrees of arthritis and fatigue until this change over occurs. We don't know how long it will take his body to respond, so we can direct our prayers towards his comfort in the interim. With each decline, his immune system is functioning more and more at a normal level.
We are thrilled to have reached this point in his recovery.
Thank you for enabling Justin's body to restore and rebuild itself. It is amazing how far medicine and technology have come to be able to bring a human being through such a torturous experience only to find that new life awaits them. In many regards, it is like being reborn. Being faithful to pray for him, we ask that this decline off of the steroids will be successful and that his body will have minimal reactions. We ask that cortisol will be manufactured deep inside of him and that You would protect his joints from inflamed arthritis. We ask that You would bless Justin and grant him the desires of his heart. We know that his one passion is to race his dirt bike again. Let that become a reality very soon. Offering up to You all of our love and adoration.......
In Jesus Name,
02, 2006 6:00 PM
Justin is doing well. His liver enzymes have stabilized to such a degree that the doctor is beginning to wean him COMPLETELY off of his anti-rejection drug. This is such a monumental step. We have to be watchful for any Graft vs Host disease that may try to sneak back up. If this reappears at any time, in any organ, he will have to go back on it. How thankful we are to have reached this place. It has been 1 yr 8 months since his transplant. Figuratively speaking, he has the consent form in his hand just waiting for the doctor's signature to permit him to ride his dirt bike again. What a day that will be!!!!
Justin will be starting his junior year on the 14th. Placing him back into this school environment is always a health concern, but it is the place for him to be now and the risks far outweigh the benefits. What a joy it has been to have him healthy for such a long stretch of time.....8 months now. Yes, for us, 8 months is a long period of time with no complications. We are very thankful for each healthy day Justin has enjoyed.
We anticipate being able to connect with our donor. The two year international date for revealing our identities to each other is coming up on Dec. 16, 2006. Won't it be great to have a face and a name and one day a neck to hug and thank? Wow!!
We will update again in early September unless anything should arise. Just know that "no news is good news" from the Cude's. Thank you again for checking in on our family.
When I think about the transitions that parent and child journey through together on their way to adulthood, I am thankful for all of what You have allowed my heart to experience. Though the transitions require a letting go ...I will rest knowing that Your plan for Justin life is a perfect one for him. It is a plan that You saw when You knit him together in my womb. It is a trustworthy plan. We will continue to petition You to guard his body against infection. Let his junior year be seasoned with Your favor and academic success. These high school years seem to slip through parental fingers at such a rapid pace....but, my heart remains silent before You for just the simple opportunity to see him make these steps. Thank You Lord. Thank You for tenderly caring for all of us. We love You!!
In Jesus Name,
Sunday, July 02,
2006 12:59 PM
It is hard to believe that it has been a month since we updated last. We are all doing well and enjoying sunny California.
We wanted to let you know that since being out here Justin's liver enzymes have been progressively moving down. They are not making huge decreases, but none the less they are stabilizing themselves and that is good news. He is not in any discomfort from the elevated liver enzymes. He looks and feels terrific.
Justin is working now!! He is making tee-shirts at a heat press machine, ironing on transfers for Mike. He is very organized and pays attention to detail and those skills are helpful in a job like this. It is too easy to put the transfer on upside down or backwards. He has already spent a portion of his newly earned income on a muffler for his truck. Now, the whole neighborhood can hear him coming a mile away. I've attached a picture of him and his friend, Rob Volden that was taken today. Rob is a friend from school who flew down to spend the week with him.
If you have not been following Clint and Jacob, here is an update on them. Clint is progressing nicely through his bone marrow transplant His new cells have engrafted and that is great news!! www.caringbridge.org/visit/clintsorenson1
Young Jacob passed away and is now cancer free and healthy in that wonderful place we call heaven. The reality of heaven has become very real to the Duckworth family and if you continue to check their website www.caringbridge.org/fl/jacob you will read of a faith that triumphs through any storm. Their big motto is to F.R.O.G. That means to Fully Rely on God no matter what uncertainites we face in this life. A heart that trusts and releases the results to the providence of our Heavenly Father and leans on His authority and Wisdom, is a heart that can find peace in the midst of any storm. That is the testimony of the Duckworth's. They are my heroes and I have come to love them simply by reading Heather's updates. I bet one day we will see Heather's book called, "Heaven's Most Amazing Angel" and hear her story about this journey she walked through with Jacob somewhere on Oprah or the 700 Club. God never allows his people to suffer needlessly. The end result always has our best interest at heart.
On Friday, we learned that another young girl, Kellie Miner, has relapsed with AML leukemia. She is 13 yrs old. . Justin and Kellie were patients together at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Now, the search is on to find a donor for Kellie. Please extend your prayers towards our friend. You can find her website at www.teamkellie.org She will be returning to Phoenix Childrens Hospital on July 12th for further treatment.
We recently heard of the battle of another young boy , 3 year old Connor Riordan. His grandfather Neil would love for all of us to rally behind his grandson. He is fighting brain cancer. You can find his story at www.caringbridge.org/visit/connorriordan
Thank you so much for checking in on our family. We still remain in awe for the privilege of enjoying these days with Justin. God is who He says he is.
No matter where these cancer journeys lead....You are still seated at the right -hand of the Father making intercession for each one of us. Father, we will pray for Clint, the Duckworth's, Kellie and her family, and now Connor and his family for success in their treatment and for you to guide the parents as they search for You with all of their hearts. . Even in their darkest days Your light can penetrate past the suffocating pain and uncertainties they face. It only makes the eternal warmth of heaven more real to those who suffer to such great extents. We are still bowed down in worship before You and acknowledge that You are Lord to the glory of God the Father,
In Jesus Name,
Friday, June 02,
2006 9:20 AM
Carissa's graduation was a wonderful evening of celebration! As promised here are a couple of pictures taken that night of Justin and Carissa. Justin took great care to be a conscientious escort to her. He even drove her to the event in Mike's Trans Am. She was definitely our princess for the night.
Justin is doing well. He survived finals week and is now looking forward to spending part of his summer at our home in Carlsbad, California. He is doing his first solo long-distance drive over there as I type this. He is following Mike. When Mike was 16 yrs old, he drove over to Arizona from California to pick up merchandise for his parents. That parental trust developed confidence in Mike and now it is our turn to install the same in Justin.
I have been following the journey of two boys. One is 16 yr old Clint Sorenson, from Arizona, who is undergoing a bone marrow transplant at Phoenix Children's Hospital. The other is an adorable 6 yr old named Jacob Duckworth from Florida. He is one of a set of triplets boys. Both families have put all of their trust and hope in the Lord's gracious healing touch for their boys. I wanted to show them our support in prayer. You can find their websites by first going to www.caringbridge.org then type: clintsorenson1 at the first box to find Clint. To find Jacob, go to the second box and type in his state first: fl and then jacob
I am amazed at the directive prayer that Jacob's mom is presenting before the Lord. Her name is Heather and she is offering up every ounce of faith to believe in her son's healing upon earth. If you sign her guestbook please include that you are one of Justin Cude's (www.justincude.com) prayer warriors.
Justin's liver enzymes still remain elevated. They have actually increased since we updated last and again we are watching it closely. The doctor is pretty sure that Justin has Graft vs Host in his liver and mouth. If he does, it is not bothering him. However, this is one of those balancing acts that must be watched carefully so that it does not get ahead of us. Alittle bit of graft vs host is good....that is what they keep telling us. So we continue to trust and to enjoy each day that we have been given.
Last night as I was praying for Clint and Jacob, I thought about the parallel of childhood cancer to the suffering the Israelites endured during all of those years of slavery. Day after day and night after night, they cried out to you for help, yet so many of them died in their despair. Though it seemed to them that You were indifferent, You had not turned a deaf ear to them. It took years for You to raise Moses up to be a deliverer of hope for them and to the generations that would follow. You displayed Your awesome power through the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna for them to eat, being a pillar for them to follow Your lead out into a new home and a new identity. You saved many of them from premature death. Father, hear our cry to You for help today. Children all over this world are suffering and dying painful deaths from cancer and aids and many other diseases. We need You to intervene. We need You to release the cure for cancer. It is my prayer for these two boys that You would shake heaven and earth and rescue them. I thank You for the incredible support they both already have. We come alongside that support as a group to offer our shoulders of faith and to watch what only YOU can do. You told Moses that should anyone ask who sent him to tell them "I AM" has sent him. We believe that today, You still are the "I AM". So, we send that powerful name along with our prayers to Clint and Jacob. You have not turned a deaf ear to the cries of these children and their families.....Come Lord Jesus Come....we are waiting for a display of Your awesome power.
In Jesus Name,
Friday, May 05,
2006 5:17 PM
Justin is doing super! He is about to complete the last semester of his sophomore year in about 3 weeks. He continues to work hard on his studies and thoroughly enjoys driving and the independence that gives him. For the most part, he is just a typical teenager. He enjoys going out and hanging with his friends. There are days we only see him for a few minutes after school. For all of that, we are thankful. He is looking forward to seeing his sister, Carissa, graduate in a few weeks. We all are!!! We will update a picture of them at her graduation sometime in early June. He promised her he would dress up for it and wear a matching tie to her dress. We are planning on having their pictures taken together. She will be coming over to his school as an incoming freshman. They will even be taking some classes together.
Sunday, March 19,
2006 4:38 PM
Aloha from Hawaii!! We have just returned from our Spring Break reprieve. It was a nice change of pace even though we encountered an unusual amount of precipitation for that climate. I've attached a few pictures of Justin's deep-sea sport-fishing day he enjoyed with his dad. Together they caught 6 mahi mahi and 14 tunas.
Justin is doing well and has successfully completed the 3rd quarter of his sophomore year. Given how many days he has missed in the past we are happy to announce that he only missed 3 days during this entire semester. That is quite an accomplishment.
Tomorrow morning, Justin embarks on the next step in his recovery. He will begin a re-immunization program. He has a new patient evaluation set up with his original primary care pediatrician, Dr. Marstiller. How cool is that.....She is setting Justin up as if he were a brand new patient. Technically, he is...... Justin will soon be transferred back into her care.
Wow...You have created a brand new body for Justin to live in. So much so...that even Dr. Marstiller will examine it as if she had never met Justin before. I ask that when he is transferred back under her care that You would give her divine wisdom and insight into the future health for Justin. Specifically, I ask that You would help her to evaluate the re-immunization program. Grant her wisdom on "how many" immunizations to give him at one time. Help her to make accurate decisions to avoid any negative reactions Justin could experience. I ask You to help these immunizations strengthen his brand new immune system. Let these doses come alongside Your miraculous work inside of his body and be another tool in Justin's complete restoration. We continue to marvel at Your handiwork as we watch Justin enjoy life and resume the life of a regular teenager.
In Jesus Name,
11, 2006 7:41 PM
It has been a few weeks since we updated you. Justin is doing super!! He received his progress report from school and is pulling all A's and B's. He drives himself back and forth to school and takes himself to the clinic. His bloodwork looks great. He is still on medication that is suppressing his immune system but, we are prayerful that the end is in sight. The doctor continues a very slow decline given what happened back in September. His passion is to get back out on his bike and ride. He can only do that when he is completely off the medication.
It was 3 years ago today that Justin was diagnosed with leukemia. I remember those words spoken over him by the doctor and immediately asking the Lord, in the same breathe, if Justin was going to die. His answer was not...oh, he'll be fine, Nor was his answer affirming my question. There was just silence. That night I envisioned the Lord coming to me to prepare me for a battle I did not ask to enter. I remember crying as He dressed me. I remember him taking a lot of time to secure my helmet. I remember Him telling me how the battle would be intense in my mind.
I am thankful that the Lord didn't tell me then what we would encounter for the next 1,095 days. Had He told us what would be required to see today with Justin..... the journey would have seemed too laborious. But, WITH God nothing is impossible. He broke it down into segments and only asked us to take 24 hours at a time and to trust Him with it. That trust required a letting go, always knowing that at any moment He could call Justin home to be with Him.
In Psalm 18 vs 4 it talks about "the cords of death surrounded me...the snares of death confronted and came upon me." In the next verse, the psalmist does what we all do...."he came to the Lord in his distress, and he cried to God....and the cry came before the ears of Most High God." He had the attention of the King of Kings. The only one would can reverse the premature sting of death coming against him.
The Lord prepares him for battle in vs 34. "He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me Your shield of victory and Your right hand sustains me. You stoop down to make me great and You broaden the path beneath me so that my ankles do not turn." Vs 39 "You armed me with strength for battle."
The last 3 years have been painfully difficult but, the last 3 years have also been intensely and profoundly intimate as the Lord Himself has walked so closely beside us. He heard our cries and He comforted us. He trained our hands, our minds, and our hearts to assume the position of faith. He taught us how to rise above our feelings and emotions. He taught us that in His strength we could indeed, "bend a bow of bronze" so to speak.
I know so many of you question the battles you face. You wonder where God is and why your circumstance is happening to you. I want to close with this prayer coming right from Psalm 20 over your life.
"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress, may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support. May He remember all your sacrifices. May He give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed. You will shout for joy when you are victorious ....may the Lord grant you all your request."
In Jesus Name,
19, 2006 7:14 PM
Justin is doing great! He started school on Jan. 4th and loves being back. He also turned 16 years old on Jan. 18th and is now a licensed driver.
We have been connected with another family whose teenage son underwent a bone marrow transplant five years ago. Today, he is doing well. We are planning on attending their 3rd annual silent auction fundraiser on Feb. 12th. They have a foundation called Childrens Cancer Network that raises money to meet the needs of families dealing with the trauma of cancer treatment.
Our emphasis continues to be to raise awareness for bone marrow donation. I think we will be seeing more and more of this procedure done to cure other aliments besides leukemia. We had asked our doctor not too long ago, if bone marrow transplants are being done to help cure people with AIDS. His answer was yes. It is a risky procedure but as more research is done we hope that it will become easier to endure.
Thank you again and again for the health we see in Justin's body. The future looked so bleak the night he was diagnosed. Seeing him reach this milestone of his 16th birthday continues to leave us speechless. You have been so good to us. What an awesome privilege to see him driving as well. He took to it like a fish takes to water. Milestones....Lord....we will never forget these...neither will Justin. Let these days in 2006 be the first days of the rest of his life.....We love him Lord.
In Jesus Name,
03, 2006 6:39 PM
We hope everyone had a great holiday. We sure did!! We could not have asked for a more relaxing time together.
Justin's bloodwork looks awesome!! They ran another test today to make sure that the multiplication and division of his cells continue to be that of his donor. We will have those results back in a few weeks.
He has the freedom to restart school in the morning. Wow!! With great caution, we let him go as this is what the doctor feels would be best for Justin at this point. He is also looking forward to receiving his drivers license on the 18th. This will grant him the much needed independence that any teenager craves. He is a good safe driver and will be a big help to me.
He is concerned that I may become bored now since my hours will not be revolved around his needs. Certainly, I have invested much time into nursing him back to health, not to mention tutoring him on his studies to keep him up with his class. He thinks I should look into getting a job. I appreciate his care and concern for my boredom but, I know that I can fill my hours with endless opportunities. Getting a part-time job is not a bad idea though, I may just do that.
2006 is off to a great start. Thank You for the good news of Justin's blood work today. We pray for his time back at school. We ask for smooth sails. I pray that You would keep life-threatening infections far from him. Allow his immune system to defend his body against the onset of disease. Increase his capacity to learn and expand his knowledge and allow him to adapt easily to the routine of school again. How it pleases You when Your children grow and mature physically and spiritually. With each passing year we are to be transformed more and more into Your Image...growing deeper into the knowledge of who You are. We pray this for Justin Lord. So much has been taken from him these last 3 years, but Your promises are true and You are restoring him. You said, in Joel 2: 25-28 that You would repay him for the years that the locusts have eaten. He can never go backwards but, we look forward to the way that You will choose to repay Justin. You promised that he will have more than enough to satisfy himself and that he would praise Your Name because of the wonders You have worked for him. You promised that he would never again be shamed...and that all would know that You are the Lord our God. Father, we also look forward to the promise of Your Spirit being poured out upon him. You said that our sons and our daughter would prophesy and that our young men would see visions. We are waiting Lord...and our eyes are still fixed on You and upon Your promises. You are not a God who would lie. Thank you for reminding us, through Pastor Kinnaman this weekend, that there were many others who came before us who also stood by faith. They, too were waiting for Your promises in their lives and situations, but they passed from this earth before they saw their promised results. In Hebrews 11: 39 You commended them for their faith even though none of them saw or experienced their promise. Your providence for each one of them remained firm. Your reputation stood intact, though their blessings seemed delayed. There is a part of You we will never fully know. Even in the not knowing, we have learned to trust You anyway. We believe Lord that the dispensation of their faith will once again be seen in heaven. Your Word says that You had planned something better for them that resides in a realm beyond our capacity to comprehend. So, Lord we trust You, that You only allow situations in our lives that will sharpen us as an end result. You said that You would work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28) That doesn't mean it is good at the time it is happening or that our emotions and feelings agree with the pain we are bearing, it simply means that if we wait upon You and remain there, we will begin to see more clearly what You saw from the beginning.
We trust you Lord!!
In Jesus Name,
16, 2005 6:48 PM
TODAY IS JUSTIN'S 1st BIRTHDAY!!!! It was one year ago today that he received his new cells. Wow, what a day to celebrate! He is doing amazingly. It is a privilege to have reached this milestone. We don't take it lightly. On one hand we celebrate and on the other hand we remain somber. We know all too well what could have been.
A big thank you to all the Valley Christian High kids that came over to celebrate with us. Justin has missed seeing you guys and looks forward to once again hanging out as he begins the new semester on Jan. 4th.
Good News!! The doctor has given Justin 3 weeks off from the clinic. Wow!! We hope that they remember who we are when we return on Jan. 3rd. It will be a welcome change.
We are leaving for California tomorrow morning and will celebrate Christmas with Mike's side of the family. We wanted to wish each and every one of you a blessed and Merry Christmas. We will update again after Justin's clinic visit on the 3rd.
2006......here we come!! God Bless!
There is a joy inside as we celebrate together this journey that Justin was forced to endure. It hasn't been without its struggles. Your Presence guided us each step of the way. Through our blinding tears You were there. At each ray of hope You helped us. Through it all, You never moved from Your place of Lordship. Today, we honor You and celebrate Your Goodness, Your Intervention, and Your Love that encouraged us to persevere.
We love you Lord!!
In Jesus Name,
08, 2005 6:08 PM
Justin's clinic visit went great this week. He continues his decline off of the medication. This is such a blessing as we move into the Christmas season. We are truly celebrating his life as well as the privilege of our family being together.
November 30, 2005 5:27 PM
All is well at the Cude home. Justin's clinic visit was great and he has been reduced again on his medication.
Since we were getting close to the year celebration of his transplant, we asked to fill out the necessary paperwork so that we could know who his donor is. The response was, "We would have to wait another year until Christmas of 2006 to pursue this."
You want to know why? They had to reveal to us that our donor does not live in the United States. The international bone marrow law states that revealing the donor can only be done at the two year mark. So, that information does answer the fact that our donor did not come out of our own drives. She did not travel over here to donate. She donated where she is and they flew her cells over here. There is only a few days that the cells must go from being harvested to being placed into the recipient. Timing is everything, especially when coming from overseas. We remember the day they arrived. The medical director had gone to the airport to pick them up. They arrived in a small red igloo set on ice. There was a team seemingly "guarding" them. It was like something out of a movie. I remember asking if I could hold them and pray over them before they began to give them to Justin. You would have thought that I asked to enter the private quarters of the President. I am certain that there are mega laws that the staff must adhere to and they were following protocol. But, the cool thing is they let me pray over them. No one left the room instead they all stayed, bowed their heads in reverence, and kept one eye on that bag at all times.
It is interesting...this whole process of transplantation. Whether it be a heart, kidney or another organ. It raises many questions though. We are helping a college student at Point Loma University with her persuasive speech regarding stem cell research. She has interviewed us and will be passing out Justin's bracelets to the student body.
We also wanted to let you know that Dr. Schriber did not win that National award this year. We are hopeful that next year they will.
Thank you for this small revelation about our donor. This world is not as big as we think. I am looking forward to one day possibly knowing the specifics on how You drew this line from Tempe, AZ all the way across the oceans to the other side of the world and connected it to a 30 yr old woman. How did You turn her heart to proceed with the process? What caused her to register with the bone marrow organization? For now, I will let you hold all of my questions and even if I never get the privilege of knowing the answers, I just wanted to say thank you, to You, from the bottom of my heart for moving on all the specifics and bringing this about. Please bless our donor and her family with a blessed Christmas. Let them know in their hearts, that a family in Arizona thinks the world of them and wishes to express it
In Jesus Name,
November 26, 2005 8:34 PM
Here is a picture taken of Justin on Thanksgiving night. After a great day and a great meal, he relaxed with his cousins in our jacuzzi. He looks good and he feels good.
He designed a great Christmas light display in our backyard. We have had a blast putting it up together. We watched our "Christmas Vacation" movie and even saw another, one "Christmas with the Cranks."
Justin enjoyed watching his school Valley Christian win the State Championship game today against Arizona Lutheran.
Hope you all are doing well and that you find yourselves enjoying life with those around you.
We are thankful. Thanks overflows out of our hearts. We are grateful. Gratitude overwhelms our spirits. We are also somber and silent as we approach You to express the depth of our emotions. You are a trustworthy God. You are a God who deserves our adoration. The song from Phillips, Craig, and Dean, wells up out of my heart...."You are God alone, from before time began, You were on Your throne, and You were God alone..and right now...in the good times and bad, You are on Your throne and You are God alone...Unchangeable. Father, now matter what happens in this life....the constant is this....You are God and there will never be anyone or anything else besides You. Your Lordship and sovereignty will never change. Wow!! What hope that gives especially when unexpected events rip out from underneath us what we thought was our confidence.
In Jesus Name,
November 17, 2005 8:42 PM
Justin is doing great!!! He is getting stronger as each day goes by. The doctor is quite pleased with how he is adjusting to the decrease in his medication each week. At every visit, he checks to make sure that his liver enzymes have not increased from the medication change. If all looks good, he takes it down another notch. That is what happened this week, and we are so grateful to be one step closer to being medication free.
Justin's white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelet counts are all in the normal range. THAT IS GOOD NEWS!!!
We are looking forward to begin decorating our home for Christmas and enjoying all that goes with it. One of the traditions we have developed over the years, is to watch, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" starring Chevy Chase. We usually watch it together as a family on Thanksgiving evening. Not only is it hilarious, but it pumps us up to start the project of hanging our own lights outside. One year we invited our newest neighbors over to watch it with us. We had surprised the husband with an "Eddie" outfit of his own. If you don't know what I am talking about, you just have to watch the movie for yourself. It consisted of a tight fitting white V-neck sweater with a black turtle neck dickie to wear under it. Then of course he had the white paten leather loafers. We had to slick his hair back with a lot of dippity do as we weren't so lucky for find one of those aviator hats he always wore. We all had a hearty laugh. He actually ended up wearing it to a Halloween party the following year. It was great!!. Life is too short to not enjoy each other.
Wow!! Thank you for the anticipation of the holidays. It means so much to us this year. We can't wait to laugh at the movies, sing along with the music, hang up our Christmas lights and just have the freedom to be together. Thank You that Justin is able to enjoy that with us. We rejoice that he is recovering and building up stamina. Thank You for another successful decline off of the medication this week. We are eternally grateful for all You have done to rescue Justin. You are holy and we are in awe of Your omnipotence.
In Jesus Name,
November 09, 2005 7:48 PM
Another week has passed and Justin is doing great. All of his blood work looks awesome. He continues to gain weight and this pleases all of the staff at the hospital. They have worked so hard to restore him to health. It is heartwarming for them to see it actually come to pass.
So far, so good on his flu shot. He has no symptoms of feeling ill from it.
Other than chompin at the bit to get out and ride his bike and go to school....Justin is doing well. He is keeping up with his studies and is looking forward to the holidays. He keeps reminding us of his new 1st birthday on Dec. 16th. That will be the one year anniversary of his transplant. At the end of November he will sign a consent form with the National Bone Marrow Registry that will allow for his identity to be revealed to his donor. We are hopeful that she too will sign one at the other end. Perhaps, before the year ends we can know some more personal information about her and perhaps meet.
As we move into the holidays this season our hearts cannot help but reminisce. We have come so far in a year. Thank you Lord for allowing Justin to recover and to gain weight. Thank you for restoring him to health. We ask for the opportunity to meet his donor and to thank her. Father, allow us to bless her this Christmas as she did us last year.
In Jesus Name,
November 02, 2005 8:11 PM
Justin has made significant strides. He has regained all of the 22 pounds that he lost between Sept. 12th and October 4th. This is a great accomplishment as he has only been home for 28 days. That is almost one pound a day.....that is a lot!!! He continues to feel great and can't wait to get back out on his bike. He won't be going riding for awhile. Doctors orders!!!!! He needs to be off all of his medication first.
They stepped down another notch off of his drugs and he graduated to only going into the clinic once a week. Those are great accomplishments as we roll into this new month of November.
Our doctor, Jeff Schriber and The City of Hope at Good Samaritan Hospital, where he is the director, is up for a prestigious National award. for their accomplishments in bone marrow transplantation. If they win, they will fly 50 of their staff members up to Washington D.C. to be awarded and have it presented to them by President George Bush. They will be leaving at the end of November. I am convinced that they will win. When I heard about this, I asked him to take us along as the token patient family. My reason for wanting to go, goes back two years ago when Carissa learned something significant about President Bush while researching a report on him. Did you know that he had a sister who passed away from leukemia when she was 5 years old? She was the only daughter to George Sr. and Barbara and President Bush's only sister. At the time, bone marrow transplants was not something that was done. I can only imagine the pain that our presidential family endured during that time. Barbara and the girl moved to NY to do clinical treatments. When Carissa learned of this, she stopped what she was doing and wrote him a letter. She was ll years old at the time and the letter was written from the heart of a sibling to the heart of another sibling who had endured the same pain she was dealing with. We never knew what became of that letter. Our doctor laughed at us when we told him we were still waiting for a response. Anyway, it would mean the world to Carissa to go. It would take an act of God to orchestrate the details as there is a waiting list of spouses that want to be included in the 50 maximum that can attend.
Thank you for another great week and for helping Justin to regain all of the weight that he lost. He feels great and we thank You everyday for the health we see in his body. Lord, we ask that You would grant this prestigious award to Dr. Schriber. Thank you for all of his efforts and the sacrifices he has made to restore health to many, many people. Thank you for the leadership that he provides to this establishment. Give Dr. Schriber Your wisdom as he chooses whom to take along with him. Father, just knowing that our President has been touched by the drama of leukemia moves my heart. None of us are immune to the challenges this life throws out. Let this be an emotionally charged event that will not be forgotten by Dr. Schriber, his staff, nor President Bush. Let there be great rejoicing for the strides of science that has taken place since his sister passed away.
In Jesus Name,
October 26, 2005 8:28 PM
We are thankful for another great week! Justin is doing well. He continues to gain weight and strength. The clinic visits are uncomplicated. He receives intravenous medication during his time there and will continue that for weeks, possibly months.
The doctor is starting a slow, gradual decline off some of his meds. He mentioned that he will be giving Justin a flu shot this Friday to protect him. This will be the first one he has ever gotten. We are trusting the doctor's recommendation here. We realize he is immune compromised but, we do not know how his system will react to this shot. They say it will take approximately 2 weeks for the body to build up enough immunity to combat these particular 3 strands of the flu virus. We are asking for prayer for Justin that his system will not overreact and cause him to actually get the flu.
He is keeping up on his homework as best he can. I am teaching him. It is difficult for him to focus for long periods of time while on the steroids so... we take a lot of breaks. Our goal is to get him through this 1st semester so that he can rejoin his classmates in January.
Thank you for all of the progress Justin is making. Thank you for the returning weight and strength in his physical body. When we look at Justin we see a part of Your nature. You are the God who heals, who restores and who fixes the brokenhearted. I so desire to see more of Your Majesty as You reveal Yourself to mankind. You are not a God who hides...but who longs for moments when Your people stand in one accord and wait upon You to move. If we have learned anything here in these long months it is that. Don't be afraid to wait. Our job as believers is to believe!! Standing firm upon Your promises set in written word.......everything else is Your job. Your reputation precedes You....and Your answers to our dilemmas are always on time.
Please Lord allow this flu shot to protect Justin and not to harm him.
In Jesus Name,
October 19, 2005 6:19 PM
It was one year ago today, October 19th, that Justin relapsed and was readmitted back into Phoenix Children's Hospital. This would be the beginning of what we would consider now to be the most challenging year of this whole journey.
Recalling the painful moments are easy but, today we want to dig deeper and remember the good that has come out of it.
We remember, with fondness, the staff at PCH. Since moving to a new hospital we do not see them as we did for the first two years. It is with gratitude that we honor them today. They are an extraordinary bunch of people who do "good" every day to those who are hurting.
We remember the media both written and broadcast that helped with the process of finding Justin's donor. Thank you Channel 15 and to the AZ Republic for supporting us and increasing the public's awareness.
We remember our home church, Word of Grace and our Pastor of 23 years, Dr. Gary Kinnaman, for faithfully standing with us and praying for us over and over and over again. We thank our church for choosing Justin to represent the lighting of the "hope" candle as the celebration of Advent began. We thank them for hosting one of the largest Bone Marrow Drives to date in our state. Randy Rhode, who is on staff at the church, interviewed us and made the video that plays at the top of this webpage. That video was made the night of Oct. 18th.....Justin already knew that he had relapsed. We remember believing that if God was not trustworthy then....than when would He be? We proceeded with what was already planned.
We remember our donor who endured the process of extracting her marrow cells around Dec. 8th or 9th and continued with it for about a week. A complete stranger was being used as an instrument in the hands of the Lord to restore life to another human being. But, it wasn't any other human being ...it was my son. "He's My Son," is a popular song and we felt as though we were the ones they were singing about. Here is the history on that song. It was written by a Youth Pastor regarding of one of the young men in his youth group. I am not sure if he had cancer but, whatever it was, it was life threatening. The song is written from the context of the father's heart as he comes before the Lord in prayer for his son. The chorus goes...
You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see him?
Can You make him feel all right?
If You can hear me, let me take his place somehow....
See he's not just anyone....HE'S MY SON!!
This young man overcame this obstacle and is today living a healthy life. Many people don't know that. This song is powerful and can move the heart of any parent who has held a sick child in their arms. It is also a powerful song about prayer and God's involvement in our lives. Evaluating God's involvement in our lives can never be judged on how we are feeling. Feelings are fickle and emotions can take us to places of despair as this chorus illustrates. You can almost hear the father screaming....GOD WHERE ARE YOU? But, as we know....God was there all along.
We remember the staff at City of Hope in Good Samaritan who walked us through the transplant. We are grateful to them for receiving Justin as a patient in what is considered mostly an adult facility. Their kindness, care and support of our family will never be forgotten. We remember those that went through the procedure with us. We honor Geri, Darla, Dr. Moss, and Bruce and celebrate with them as we are all approaching the one year mark.
We remember all the good that flowed out of the hearts of our neighbors, friends and family. We remember the kind acts from people who didn't know us but, stepped out of their comfort zones to do good. We remember the staff and students at Valley Christian High School for supporting us with a tremendous amount of prayer and for helping us to continue educating Justin.
Today is a day of remembrance and we are choosing to remember the good. We would like to close with this scripture as our prayer today. By the way, Justin is doing excellent. He went to his chapel program at school...and has started his decline off some of the drugs. He feels awesome and has regained almost 12 pounds. Wow!!
You say to train our minds to think in a certain strategic way that actually invites peace and rest for our souls. In obedience to Your Word, we offer this day and will continue to dwell on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable.
Philippians 4:8 "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
In Jesus Name,
October 14, 2005 10:44 PM
Justin has had a great week. The clinic visits on Wednesday and today came and went with no complications. He has graduated to coming in only twice a week now. So, next week his clinic visits will be Monday and Thursday. He continues to regain the weight that he lost. All of his blood work is normal with no indication of anything but health. Liver enzymes are still high and need to come down. They may continue to be high until he is off all of his medication. We can direct our prayers to this area.
He spent some time with Damon Dunn. Remember him? He is the ex-NFL football player who has a ministry called "Fighting Life's Giants." He was an excellent life coach to Justin during his transplant. When he was on the ventilator, Damon stood beside him and prayed. He knew that Justin was in the biggest battle of his life and had to fight with every resource. Today was the first time Damon has seen him since the ventilator. It was truly remarkable...a miraculous transformation. The images of Justin on life support still resonated in his mind. But, today was different. There was laughter and hugs, all reminiscent of just how awesome our God is.
Justin attended his Homecoming game tonight. It was great!! He missed it last year because he had relapsed. We were thinking that it will be one year ago on Oct. 19th that the leukemia returned and the fight for a donor was on. Thanksgiving was when we found out a donor had been found.
Thanks for another great week of recovery. Thanks for the fun and enjoyment of today. Justin says that "Pain is just a memory....but scars last forever." He is right Lord. The pain he endured is today just a memory. The scars on his body will last forever as a reminder of the intensity of these battles. They will remind us, Lord, of Your scars and the price You paid for Justin's healing. Your scars Lord...have lasted and will continue to last throughout each and every generation. I have thought about what would have happened that day, if You had come down off of that cross and instead of tasting death for all mankind You displayed Your radiant glory to all those gathered there. You choose not to do that Lord...for us. I believe that Your death gives each one of us the faith to believe You to do that through our lives. You are more than able to take us down from our own personal crucifications. The crosses we bear in this life are strenuous and laborious. But, You said that the same power that raised You from the dead...resides within us. So, raise us Lord to live faithful, victorious lives. Set our feet back upon solid ground and put a new song in our hearts. Let us be shining beacons of Your Power and Majesty. We will not remain silent.
In Jesus Name,
October 10, 2005 7:24 PM
This week Justin will be going to the clinic Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We will try and do an update on those days. Today's clinic visit went well. He continues to receive intravenous medication and will continue this throughout the remainder of the week.
His blood work results look awesome. Everything is in the normal range. Even his liver enzymes are continuing their downward spiral. This is an answer to prayer. He continues to amaze us at his returning stamina. He has gained another 2 1/2 lbs. That is a total of 5 pounds gained since leaving the hospital. That is a lot in a short period of time.
Justin spent most of last night "thinking." He wants to know how all of the pain and suffering that he has endured, has changed you? How has it impacted your life? Has it increased your faith? Have you ask Jesus to be Lord of your life because of observing this?
We removed the size limit on the message board to allow you ample space to share how Justin's life has changed your faith.
We really want to hear your heart. Perhaps you have never left us a message before. This would be a great time to do it now. Simply go back to the top of this page and click on the yellow box. We look forward to reading each and every one of your stories.
Thank you for another great clinic visit. Thank you for decreasing Justin's liver enzymes. We ask that You soothe his liver and kidneys as they are working overtime to release the toxins from his body. Thank you for the weight gained. We pray for each person reading this update, that You would do a great work in their life and increase their awareness of You. We ask that You protect them and bless their lives with the truth. The truth is that You are Lord and their is no other God besides You.
In Jesus Name,
October 07, 2005 9:25 PM
Tonight's update is short and sweet. Justin is doing well. His clinic appointment came and went with no complications. He was given permission by the doctor to attend his football game. He had a great time hanging out with his friends. It has only been four days since he was released from the hospital. Without the doctors consent, Mike and I would not have let him go. It is a perspective thing and the doctor feels that yes, we need to take precaution but Justin has a life to live and he cannot live it in a bubble. So, we all went to the football game together.
I am going to start updating every couple of days now unless anything unexpected arises.
Thank you for the fun Justin had with his friends tonight. It was good for the teenager in him to have the opportunity to just "hang out." You heal the whole person and tonight was healing for him emotionally. Continue to grant us wisdom to make sound decisions on future events he wants to participate in.
In Jesus Name,
October 06, 2005 6:57 PM
I really like these uneventful days where there is not much new to update you all on. Today was our first full day of no doctors!!! God love them...but we have had more than our share of their attention for the past 3 years. The break will be short-lived. Justin needs to go back to the outpatient clinic tomorrow morning and have some IV medication. They have to drug him up to prevent an allergic reaction. He only has 2 more doses after tomorrow.
I, on the other hand, will be utilizing that time to pour over his books and try to organize some home schooling for the weeks ahead.
Thank you for your prayers for his liver enzymes...they have come down some. They still have a way to go to be in the normal range, but they are declining and that is great to see.
We feel like we are catching our breathe and having a bit of normalcy return to our family. Thanks for today......a wonderful day of recovery. Justin has been in a good humor and I am reminded every minute how blessed I am to enjoy him. We remain focused on his liver enzymes that You will heal whatever is causing them to rise. We ask for You to bring order into Justin body and we whisper "wholeness" over him...from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet...let there be a new anointing of wholeness sweep over him that would greatly encourage his heart.
In Jesus Name,
October 05, 2005 8:06 PM
It is nice to be home together as a family. We are all a bit extra tired and need some time to recover and settle back into a routine. Justin especially enjoyed sleeping in his own bed last night and just having some time to himself. Poor guy, try being a teenager and having your parents constantly in your room 24/7. It is good that we all love and respect each other, but now that he is doing well, we are happy to give him some space. He has a lot to think about. He has brought up some deep questions about the last 3 weeks. Questions most people avoid regarding their own demise. He is processing it and trusting God and realizing that all of what happened was completely out of his control. God was at the helm and continues to be.
We spent a good portion of today back at outpatient where he continued to receive some IV medication. The doctor says he looks good as far as his blood counts. His liver enzymes spiked up again during his stay in the hospital. We are watching this closely. This is a specific prayer request. This could be largely in part to all of the medication he was/is on.
The doctor told him to go home and EAT!!! He is doing such a great job at this. He has already regained 2 1/2 lbs. It is just a matter of time.
Thanks for a good report at the clinic today. We continue to pray that Justin's liver would be in order. Please bring the enzyme count down into the normal range. We ask that Graft vs Host disease be far from him. Thank you for helping him to regain some weight. We ask that You would return to him the muscle that atrophied. You are the God of Restoration...You are Justin's Healer and Restorer!!
In Jesus Name,
October 04, 2005 7:00 PM
JUSTIN IS HOME!!! Attached is a picture of our departure. The one in the middle is the man you have all been praying for, Justin's doctor....Jeff Schriber. He is the director of the entire bone marrow department. Thank you Lord for doctors!! Thank you Lord for Dr. Jeff Schriber!! He is just as happy as anyone to see Justin go home. The bandage on Justin's neck is from the IV that they removed just minutes before. Before you notice that.....make sure you look at the bright eyes of our champ.....He was soooo happy to be going home. It is also miraculous that Justin leaves with no need for oxygen support. Based on his x-rays...the doctor wasn't sure if Justin would need oxygen support for the rest of his life. God is good to have healed Justin to this extent. We may never fully comprehend all that the Lord has done in our behalf.
Thank you for your kind words of enthusiasm and joy as Justin makes this step home. It is surreal in many ways. Did the last 3 weeks really happen?
Tomorrow morning at 9:00 am we will be back in the hospital as an outpatient. Justin will be there for about 4 - 5 hours. He will endure another IV poke and some intravenous drugs. The good news is, he can come home when he is done. He will probably be doing this for the next several weeks...on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We need to be watchful for fevers, shortness of breath, loss of appetite,etc....Justin still needs our prayers. Recovery is an important part to attaining wholeness and health.
Thank you for another step in Justin's recovery. There is a deep joy in our hearts to have reached this place. We know that Justin still has a road in front of him. Please help us to direct our prayers for a speedy and quick recovery. Thank you for completely restoring his lungs and giving him the capacity to breathe on his own. Thank you for increasing his appetite and building him up with stamina. Help him tomorrow as he returns. Please keep all fevers, shortness of breath and loss of appetite at bay. We are surrounding him Lord with prayers. Show us Your best work!!! We love you Lord.
In Jesus Name,
Monday, October 03, 2005 6:48 PM
Let's hear another drum roll please..........In less than 24 hours....and against all odds....Justin will be released from the hospital!!!!
That's all I need to say in this update....By noon tomorrow....my son will be walking back into his own world. He is coming home!!!!
I sure hope You have as big a smile on Your face as I do on mine.....Wow!!
October 02, 2005 7:10 PM
As each day rolls into the next, Justin's strength is returning to him. Last night he slept with no oxygen. They monitored him all night to make sure he maintained 98% to 100% of his own oxygenation. He did!!! He also walked the pod with no extra oxygen either. Today the oxygen masks and tubing are coiled up and hanging on the wall.
The doctor told him that he will be released from the hospital on Tuesday. Because of the nature of his illness and to the extent that it went...Justin will be monitored very closely in the outpatient. So, even though he will be at home, he will still be going in to be checked 2 to 3 times per week. He takes with him, scars from the battle. The incision from his open lung biopsy whips around him. Many other scars from needles and tubes to his nose scarred up from the breathing machines. These will all heal in time.
A special thanks to those who have prepared meals for us and took the time to bring them down to the hospital. Thank you to the Urig Family, Bergsma Family, Hanneburg's, Zappe's, Benzer's, and Geyer's. Tonight's meal was prepared by the VanPelts. Beverly made Justin's favorite fish dish...salmon. He really enjoyed that! Thank you...bring on the protein..this boy needs to eat!! He has enjoyed all the dip n dot ice cream that has been brought down. It's funny that he doesn't normally eat them, but oh well...if it sounds good to him, it works for us.
Thank you to all of you for praying so hard and believing God to heal Justin even when it seemed that hope was running out. Carissa and I enjoyed going to church this morning. It was wonderful to see Pastor Kinnaman break right in the middle of his sermon to pray for people who needed God's miraculous intervention in their lives. There is much power in prayer...especially corporate prayer. God can and will come in response to our desperate cries for help. Now if we can just harness that and learn to remain desperate for Him...even when there is no catastrophe happening in our lives we would have learned a valuable lesson.
We are hungry for You and we are desperate for You. Arise Lord in Your Church...let Your glory be revealed....Father, we offer to you a steady, consistent cry of desperation for more of Your Presence in our lives, in our churches, in our schools, and in our government.
In Jesus Name,
October 01, 2005 8:35 PM
We continue the daily grind of recovery....eating, drinking, sleeping and walking!!! Each day Justin is gaining strength. It was only one week ago today that the ventilator was removed. He still has much to recover from. He was able to be off oxygen all day. His own oxygenation held strong. Now, he uses it only when he sleeps and/or he walks around the pod.
He was able to walk more today....not once, not twice, but three times around the pod. It is still strenuous, but each time he does it he is building up stamina and causing his lungs to heal.
We are hopeful that home is somewhere on the horizon. Mike is planning on going back to work on Tuesday. It would be great if Justin could be home before then.
Wasn't it great to see the encouraging word today from Greg all the way over in Germany? My, how the Internet connects us together. Translated into English this is what he wrote: "we pray for you and hope it go to you well."
It reminds me of the song sung by Sandi Patti entitled, "Love in Any Language". Some of the lyrics to the chorus are:
straight from the heart,
pulls us all together,
and once we learn to speak it,
all the world will hear
that love in any language
fluently spoken here.
Thank you for the love that was expressed through Greg's message. How beautiful to see it written in German and to know that you have called someone to pray for Justin and our family that many miles away. We thank you for the progress we see Justin making. We thank you for Your healing touch upon his body, despite never having known what attacked him. You knew....and You alone have brought about resolve. We thank you for Your method of healing for using the doctors and medicine and the prayers of Your people. It's as though You stirred it all together in a pot, boiled it for a while and we sat watching it simmer as we waited upon Your answer. Your answer came and there is no greater love that You could have expressed to our family than to have spared his life and rescued him from the grave. Isaiah 65: 23-24 reminds us that we will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune, for we will be a people blessed by Your Hand, and our descendants with us. Before we call...You will answer us, and while we are still speaking, You will hear us."
In Jesus Name,
September 30, 2005 9:02 PM
Justin is doing well. He was able to breathe at room air from about 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm. Of course this was only when he was sitting up or lying down. It was the first time since he was admitted that he went without the need for oxygen. If he was to exert himself physically, he still would need some. However, this was a great accomplishment for the day.
The Mayo doctors came back with their analysis. They think what caused Justin's illness is Graft vs Host disease. This is the rejection disease from the bone marrow transplant. Our doctors are not completely convinced but, are increasing his rejection drug just in case. It is not common to see someone 9 months out of transplant get this sick so rapidly. He really had no symptoms. It just came at him. So, it doesn't appear that he picked up a virus from anyone else.
You know the name of the virus, bug, or Graft vs Host disease that has come against Justin. It came against him with a vengeance to take his life. Your Word says that at the mention of Your Name...that everything would bow....nothing would be able to exalt itself above Your Name. Taking that knowledge to heart...we ask Lord that You would call this unknown attack in Justin's body to surrender to Your Name and to Your Word. Thank you for loosening its hold on him. If there is still residue inside of him, Lord bring it to its demise.
In Jesus Name,
September 29, 2005 8:12 PM
After breakfast, Justin worked with a physical therapist. He was able to walk from his bed to the door. That was a really big accomplishment considering where he was just a few days ago. He still requires 2 liters of oxygen, so any physical activity tires him out quickly.
He wants to go home believe it or not. We still have a ways to go before that will happen, but it is a great goal for him to shoot for. First, he needs to build himself up nutritionally. Second, he needs to regain some physical stamina. He did a great job eating at both lunch and dinner. By the end of the day, he wanted to get out of bed and walk around the pod. Again, this requires a lot of oxygen to do and we weren't sure he was ready....but.....he wanted to....so, his kind nurse let him try. He was able to accomplish it.
Justin is our hero in many respects. His determination to live and enjoy life makes us all want to appreciate the life that we have been given and to live it with passion. However, there is another hero in this story....his father Michael. In early updates, I talked about my heart as a mother.....but, now I would like to talk about a perspective I've gained through my observation of how Mike has come alongside of Justin like a life coach. He has stood like a rock beside Justin and has not budged. His influence and support and sheer determination to protect Justin has shown up in so many ways. For one, he took off work and stayed with Justin every single night, never leaving his side. He'd encourage him with praise over an over again and told him how much he loved him and how proud he was of him. At every step no matter how small, he was there cheering him on. Mike exudes a quiet confidence in himself and in God's faithfulness. When the pain was unbearable for me, I found great strength in his arms. Mike Cude, you are our hero!!!
Thank you for these steps that Justin has taken today. Each day, he is building up strength and endurance. Help us to continue to direct our prayers towards this aspect of his recovery. Lord, thank you for Mike...what a great example of a "father" he represents to our children. You are our Father God...and You are just as pleased with our small steps when we try to become more like You in character.
In Jesus Name,
September 28, 2005 6:01 PM
Justin continues to thrive. The beginning of his day began with being DISMISSED FROM ICU STATUS!!!!! Then he ate breakfast and for the rest of the morning had tubes and IV's removed.
Then came lunch and he enjoyed a nice warm bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. Then came the biggest news of the day. HE GOT OUT OF BED!!! Until you have been where he was, you don't realize what it takes to stand on your feet and walk. He stood with some help and did not get too lightheaded. He then took a few steps and sat up in a chair. He is very sore from his surgery and his muscles are sore from having not been used. This will all just take time to heal. For the next few days he will be working with a physical therapist to retrain his muscles.
A big thank you to the Hanneburg Family who brought us dinner last night. They surprised Justin with a Dip n Dot ice cream....He enjoyed that this afternoon.
He has been on the computer and checked all of your messages. He also reread all the notes that the Valley Christian students wrote. It is hard for him to believe that two and a half weeks have gone by.
He wanted me to tell his friends.....that he is ready for you to visit. Some of the kids from school came by tonight and that made him happy. The nurse said it is great for his lungs to laugh..and that is all we heard coming from his room. (He politely told me that I could step out and take a break)
Wow!! To see Justin laughing and eating and getting so much better brings much joy to my heart. Thank you for helping him...Thank you for carrying him through this pain and suffering and bringing him out to this side of it. We continue to ask You to heal his lungs. Help him tomorrow...as that will be a "work" day with therapy. Lord, we feel honored for Your help and intervention. Our spirits are just bowed down in worship and in reverent awe of who You are.
In Jesus Name,
September 27, 2005 4:35 PM
Justin has made many positive changes. Over night he continued on the C-Pap and has endured this machine well. This morning he was on nasal prongs only and has remained at 100% oxygen all day.
Then he sat up in bed and ATE!!!!! He had only a few bites but, he did it. It bothered him to still have the feeding tube down his throat....so, that came out too!!! Then, 4 hours later......he sat up in bed again and ATE!!!!!
He talked about going back to school and asked if he could have a couple of weeks to rest. He requested I bring him down a couple of movies to watch. Wow...these have been the most incredible heartwarming changes today.
Psalm 23:6 says:
"Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord and His presence shall be my dwelling place."
Psalm 24: 8 says:
"Who is the King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle."
You are strong and mighty and You Lord have been mighty in this battle. You remain to us.....everything....including the air we breathe. If anyone should ask why we have the hope in You we do...I will tell them of Your goodness, Your mercy and Your unfailing love towards our family. We agree with Ps 23:6....that through the length of our days...Your house and Your presence will be our dwelling place." We love you Lord.
In Jesus Name,
September 26, 2005 5:33 PM
There has not been any change in either direction in Justin's condition. He fluctuated in his need for more oxygen this afternoon. The doctor's here are sending his pathology findings over to the Mayo Clinic doctors to see if a few more sets of eyes may find something they are missing. His x-rays remain the same.
My Pastor encouraged me to read Psalm 22 today. It begins by the psalmist crying out to God for help consistently and constantly and feeling abandoned by God. He felt as though God was nowhere to be found. As the chapter continues it is a prayer that I believe would be coming from Justin's spirit right in the midst of today.....
It says in
verse 10, "I was cast upon You from my very birth; from my mother's womb
You have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is
none to help. Vs. 14, "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are
out of joint. My heart is like wax; it is softened with anguish and melted
down within me. My strength is dried up like a fragment of clay pottery; with
thirst my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and You have brought me into the dust
of death," Vs. 17, "I can count all my bones; Vs. 19, "Be not
far from me, O Lord; O my Help, hasten to aid me. Deliver my life from the
sword, my dear life, my only one, from the power of the agent of execution,"
Vs. 22, "I will declare Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the
congregation will I praise You. You who fear, revere, and worship the Lord;"
Vs. 24, "For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from him, when he cried to Him, HE HEARD!"
I believe that You hear our prayers...You see our tears....You are not abhorred by this affliction in Justin's body. You have not hidden Your face from him just as your Word declares. We feel utterly helpless, Lord. We've done all we know to do. We ask for You to restore Justin to health. I know You died in his place. When I think about You hanging on the cross with leukemia and lung inflammation and every other sickness and disease, along with every sin in this world....I drop to my knees and gasp at the pain You endured for all of mankind. Come and be our strength Lord....
In Jesus Name,
September 25, 2005 5:58 PM
Perseverance.....we all know what it is but none of us like the process of how it is developed. Today was one of those days that perseverance was necessary to keep running the course. It was exciting to have the tube removed yesterday, but this has required Justin to do all the work of breathing on his own. It has been a lot of work for him, physically and mentally. He is not able to breathe deeply because of the pain in his lungs. To avoid that pain he has been taking shallower breaths almost unconsciously. None of us think about breathing....we just do it. For every breath, Justin is requiring a mental strength and focus.
In order to help him not get so tired in the process, respiratory therapy has put him on what they call a C-pap machine. It is not a Bi-Pap machine and we have not gone backwards. This is to help him expand the lower lobes of his lungs, which he is unable to do right now. It is uncomfortable so we can pray that Justin can tolerate it. He will be able to have occasional breaks from it. The longer he is able to wear it, the faster he will recover. Double pneumonia heals very slowly.
James 1: 2 says:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Perseverance is one of those traits that is built by "going through" difficulty. None of us enjoy the process. It is hard and laborious. But if God says that it is doing a work inside, perhaps on such a broader scale than what we can understand, then we will keep walking this out inch by inch. Please pray for our perseverance to continue. Pray for Justin to endure the C-Pap and pray for their to be marked improvement in his lungs.
When You said to consider a situation like this "pure joy"...in doesn't seem to make sense. There is nothing joyful about it. What I read in this scripture is that when You work perseverance into the human soul and we get to the other side of our pain...there is something gained that is so valuable that it completes us in a way maybe only You fully understand. It causes a maturity deep inside and a firm confidence that we lack for nothing. We yield to the process, Lord.
In Jesus Name,
September 24, 2005 6:39 PM
THE TUBE HAS BEEN REMOVED!!!!! It was a process just as we had described. Justin had to prove that he could breathe on his own. He did. Now he is breathing with an oxygen mask and with the help of 6 liters of oxygen. The ventilator machine was just wheeled out of the room. Wow!! This is a great day.
His voice is like music to my ears. It is raspy as a result of the ventilator and that may take weeks or months to go away. He is still not able to get out of bed. For one he is too weak. For another, we need to keep him still to avoid bronchial spasms. He is still on high doses of pain medication that keeps him sedated but alert enough to move and tell us what he needs. So, we really haven't spoken too much.....but I did get two smiles today. That was a delight to my heart.
Malachi 4:2 says "But unto you who revere and worshipfully fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His Wings and His beams, and you shall go forth and gambol like calves released from the stall and leap for joy."
Today was a glorious day!! You have answered our prayers!! Thank you for healing Justin to the point where he could have the ventilator removed. I see that he is still so weak and in need of time to heal and be strengthened. Lord, I know that You will help him at each point. You have arisen with healing in Your Wings over his body....and we envision him leaping as these young fatted calves, fully strengthened with muscles and weight, and with lungs that fully operate. Allow Justin to be a mouthpiece for You as this testimony of survival is spoken and Your Name is magnified.
In Jesus Name,
September 23, 2005 5:40 PM
Justin has been sustained for yet another day. We did not lose any ground but we did gain alittle. His lungs got just a tad bit better. No more news on when the ventilator will be coming out. They mentioned that if we take it out too soon or too hastily that could result in the necessity to reinsert it. This experience has been tremendously traumatic for other patients. We would rather they be sure he is ready then to go too fast and have to endure that.
We continue to wait upon the Lord. Waiting is the hardest part. I was thinking about a song we could sing over Justin while we wait.....it is about God being our breath. I'm sure that many of you sing it in your churches...but, I've changed it just a bit so that we can declare it over Justin.
You are the air he breathes,
You are the air he breathes,
Your very Word spoken to him,
You are his daily bread
You are his daily bread
Your Holy Spirit living in him
And he....he's desperate for You
And he.....he's lost without You
As you sing it, envision the tube coming out and Justin having the ability to breathe on his own. When they are ready to try removing it....Justin has to be able to breathe for at least an hour with the ventilator still inserted, but on emergency mode.
2 Corinthians 2: 14 says "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph as trophies of Christ's victory and through us spreads and makes evident the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere."
We know You see us waiting. We bring to you our pain, our tears and mostly our faith. We believe You to be the Great Physician. We trust You to lead us to the proper time for the tube removal. As we wait, we sing to You from the depths of our hearts. At the proper time, You will be the breathe that Justin breaths. I ask that You will prepare his lungs to breath deeply ... inhaling and exhaling with each breath. I pray that he will be more than ready and no one will question its removal. I ask during these hard times that You speak to Justin's spirit and comfort him as only You can right now. Father, we ask for the opportunity to be this trophy You talk about in Your Word. Let all of us make evident the fragrance of Your knowledge.
In Jesus Name,
September 22, 2005 4:53 PM
Justin has continued his slow decline off of the ventilator. He is presently at 45%.....he is almost there. Today has been a bit more challenging for him. He seems to be in more pain and really wants this tube out of his throat. To every person that walks in the door he asks one request...."Take this tube out of my throat!!!"
The doctors are saying his lungs are improving daily and we just need time for his body to heal. If everything continues in the direction it is going...he should be able to have the tube out in the next few days. Please pray for his comfort and his endurance to withstand this timeframe. We can also ask the Lord to speed up the process and perhaps have it removed in a lesser amount of time.
Here is a
visual that I've been thinking about all day regarding the spiritual significance
of the tube coming out. It reminds me of the old story of the Jericho Wall
crumbling before the eyes of the people. It is recorded in Joshua 6 if you
want to read the story in its entirety.
In essence, we too have been marching around a wall. This one is not made of stone and brick but nonetheless it has bound Justin. So much so, that he is tied to the bed unable to move. God always gives a strategy to His people for desperate times like these. Ours is to stand in corporate intercession. This has created a huge spirit of unity and oneness and now it is time for us to stand still and see with our own eyes this wall of disease crumble off of Justin taking with it, its intention of death. I hear the faint sound of a drum roll....and I envision all of us just standing still and watching this wall crumble.
I read Psalm 25 this morning...listen to this.
"Unto You O Lord, do I bring my life. Oh my God, I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in You....Yes, let none who trust and wait hopefully and look for You be put to shame or be disappointed...Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and faithfulness and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You do I wait expectantly all the day long.
We sit still with a spirit of expectancy. Our eyes are locked unto Yours and we are ready Lord to see this wall of disease crumble off of Justin's body. We have and continue to remain in agreement with Your Word. Allow Your brilliance to outshine this circumstance. Grant us yet another opportunity to recant this story of Your deliverance. You are our God and we are standing together in a holy hush waiting for You to move.
In Jesus Name,
September 21, 2005 5:30 PM
Justin has been resting comfortably most of the day. His heart rate has been consistently down in the low 60's. This was wonderful to see. Yesterday, his resting heart rate was in the high 90's. This tells us that his body is not working as hard and this is a good sign.
He was able to be brought down on his oxygen requirements as well and is holding steady at 55%. We do not want to decrease too rapidly and have to go back up. They are going to hold him steady at 55% and wait for his oxygen to consistently stay in the high 90's. So far it is doing just that. This is another very good sign.
When he reaches around 40% and all the other requirements are met......the ventilator will be removed. What a day that will be. I will be able to hear his voice again. Wow!! I cannot tell you how wonderful that sound will be to my ears.
Now, for my motherly evaluation. He looks better today. It is just my sense.....I know you mothers out there know what I am talking about. I could tell when he was sick a week ago too. Even with no fever or cough or anything...something just wasn't right.
It has been comforting for the moms out there letting me know that you are praying for me. The mother's heart is unique and designed specially by the hand of the Lord to embrace her child. This type of embracing is done out of the same place that the love flows from. It just aches when it comes out....where as the love feels soothing and comforting. But, the mother's heart continues to beat for that child no matter what.....
He keeps telling us he is so hungry. He cannot eat by mouth until the tube is out. Please pray that the nutrition in the feeding tube will create a fuller and a more satisfied feeling in his stomach. They were having a bit of trouble getting his nutrition to be absorbed so we can address that issue in prayer today as well.
No more news...the course is steady right now. The goal is to let Justin's body heal itself as we supplement his lungs.
Thank you for these stats. Justin seems more comfortable. For each step of healing we are so thankful to You for Your help and intervention. You have not left us alone. We do pray for Justin's nutrition to be absorbed so that all the necessary nutrients reach this incredible system You created in his body. How we take for granted what our bodies do for us every 24 hours. Lord, remove the pain of hunger from him. Let him feel full and satisfied during these days of ventilation. Thank you for all the positive changes and Lord we just want You to know we think You are awesome!!!!
In Jesus Name,
September 20, 2005 3:00 PM
Justin required more oxygen over the night. He is stabilized now at 65%. This is not uncommon to see. He was more alert yesterday, sitting up and writing us notes that it took more from him than he had to give.
This morning he wrote Mike a note saying he wanted to go home. Each time he exerts himself like this, it raises his heartbeat. This domino effects into his heart working harder than it should at this point. He needs all the energy from his body to kill this infection. In order to accomplish this, they have increased his meds to allow him to sleep.
Now as far as a diagnosis, it is still not clear. They are saying it "appears" to be in the viral family, but not convincing enough to drop all of his other medications and zero in on that one only. Since there is still no certainty, he continues a barrage of medications that he may or may not need. Of course this is highly toxic to his body. We need to pray that Justin's kidneys will not fail in the process. His liver is also reacting and we can pray for that organ to continue to release the toxins and flush them through his system. We can pray specifically that his lungs will not be damaged and that he will be able to breathe and live a healthy long life.
So, for today this is where we sit. There is no end in sight....all we can do is wait. The doctors want desperately to find the cause so that they can treat Justin effectively. I can only imagine their frustration. Their whole goal is healing the patient. Like a car mechanic trying to find out "why" the car isn't running. Sometimes you have to try this and wait to see if the car sputters. If that doesn't work then you try something else and wait, etc. It is more of a guessing game at this point. They have a good team and they are utilizing other team members at the City of Hope in Duarte for reference. Our doctor mentioned today, that a little help from upstairs would be nice.
So, that is what we will do. Let's pray for the doctors by name and ask God to help them. Justin's main doctor is Jeff Schriber. His associates who also work with Justin depending on who is on call are Joe Alvarnez and Dr. Addo. They are awesome men who have had great success with other bone marrow patients. They just need some divine insight right now.
We come today with more of a somber spirit. We understand that healing has it's own timetable. Sometimes the process is up 3 steps and down 2 before we see the manifestation of wholeness. We lift up specific and strategic prayers to cover Justin's major organs. Lord, we pray for his kidneys, liver, heart and lungs to survive this barrage of medication. I pray Lord that You would not allow his kidneys to fail. Let the liver and kidneys release their toxins completely and be flushed daily. I pray for Dr. Schriber. Lord, even if You have to wake him up in the middle of the night grant him creative ideas to look in places of research or lead him to another colleague that may suggest a thought that would help him. Lord You see him trying and he has asked specifically for wisdom today. We ask that you would cover his associates Dr. Alvarnez and Dr. Addo at this time too. Let them find the culprit Lord. We are desperate to know how to help Justin We continue to ask for strength. Please raise up these prayer warriors to cover our pain so that we may minister to Justin. We dedicate the life of Justin Tyler Cude into your keeping. We see him safe under the shadow of your wing.
In Jesus Name,
September 19, 2005 6:56 PM
JUSTIN HAS MADE TREMENDOUS IMPROVEMENTS IN THE LAST 24 HOURS!!! He has been decreased in increments of 10 points off of the need for the ventilator. He is now down to 55% and dropping. This is down 45%. This is remarkable. It truly is miraculous. These are the first positive signs of going in an upward direction that we have had since arriving at the hospital last Monday. The doctor says that his x-rays even look better today.
There has still not been a positive confirmation from his lung biopsy. There is a chance we may never know what caused this rapid decline. We may never know the strain of pneumonia that he had. Sometimes these cultures just never produce enough for the doctors to make a confident evaluation. Right now, it is all speculation and educated guesses. The downstairs pharmacy says they are out of stock and called up to the floor to make sure all this medication was actually going to one person.
We continue to sit tight to bring him safely down enough to be completely off of the ventilator. Tonight, they will decrease in increments of 5%. We do not know how long that will take. Please pray it will be quick.....like tomorrow quick!! It is hard for him to communicate with us. He tries to write but we don't always understand what he is trying to say.
He was placed on a feeding tube today as well. This will speed up the healing process when he begins to get some nutrition and feel stronger. He is hungry. He wrote to us to go get him some Dip n Dot ice cream from McDonalds. That was another great sign that we are going upward. Of course, he cannot eat by mouth until the ventilator is off.
They have transferred him to another type of bed that adjusts him regularly from side to side to prevent bed sores. It is pretty cool and a great idea for patients who are sedentary.
So, WOW...there you have it. What we have seen here is a display of our God's might and power. He does and always will respond to the prayers of His people. His love for us knows no bounds. He will move heaven and earth for each one of us and save our tears in a bottle. He stores them and saves them in heaven. Why would He do that? Maybe there is an exchange program up there in our home by and by......Each tear is costly and priceless to His heart. He has cried right alongside of us. He knows what it takes from the human soul to persevere in hard times. There are rewards attached to those whose hope is in Him. Our God will come......just in time......at His appointed time.
We had jokingly considered naming Justin, Justin Thyme when he was born. He was two weeks overdue and that challenged this new mom to be.
God is declaring Himself to us all. This is not just about one child getting better. This is about all of us forming an army and believing what God says is so. We don't have to stop here. Each one of us is in a different place and can continue to challenge those around us...to "only believe."
you believing God for? Anything seemingly dead and non existent in your life?
There is always hope...hang on...you are on a mercy ride rollercoaster. Romans 4:17 is a promise to you.....God says..."I give life to the dead and I speak of nonexistent things as if they already existed." What you speak out of your mouth comes from your thoughts, right? God says "That as a man thinks so is he." That's not as philosophical as it sounds. The power of life and death reside in the tongue. You have the opportunity to change your thoughts and force your mouth to speak out words that will inoculate your life with wholeness, in every area. Then when God is done with you.....go encourage someone else to believe Him too.
Wow!!! You have indeed declared Yourself to all of us by the display of Your Splendor in Justin. One sweep from Your hand and the pneumonia has to go. There is no room for sickness in Your plan for us. No room for dead and dying relationships to just splinter and fall to the ground with no hope. With You, there is always hope....We continue our vigil for Justin. He has a ways to go, and our eyes are continually locked unto Yours to show us the way. Provide the doctors with the medical information they need to figure this out. Lord, if another life can be spared this pain because of knowledge...please Lord let the biopsy reveal something to them to make a confident evaluation and not an educated guess. We remain hungry for more of You.....once we've tasted of your goodness....we just cannot get enough. We welcome You to display Your Glory again and again as Justin rises from this bed and walks out of this hospital.
In Jesus Name,
Sunday, September 18, 2005 5:17 PM
Attached is a note that Justin wrote to us this morning. It took him at least one hour to be able to write it. He is on high doses of medication to sedate him, but he had a message for us. It says, "Justin Cude will live" and "Justin loves Jesus."
Click to view image 1 Click to view image 2
Only Mike, Carissa, and I were in the room. We sobbed when we read it. God has gifted Justin with an enormous fighting spirit. Some of you moms need to take this to heart. Raising children who are gifted with a fighting spirit can be a challenge to say the least. Right now you may not know what God is shaping them to be. Someday you may see why.....
We stood in agreement with him in prayer. We are thankful for those that are extending their faith right alongside him. Yes, we are all out of our comfort zone here......what if God doesn't heal him? That thought gnaws at us. But this is our stance....We have a part to play in this....our part is to believe. We need to believe that God does heal and that Justin will be healed. If Justin can believe with such conviction in the state of mental instability he is in.....certainly we can join him and rally around him and stand believing, too.
The amount of weight on his chest is in comparison to at least 5 lbs. I am certain this must feel like a heavy load to him. Medically, we are still waiting for the biopsy results. Hopefully tomorrow something will be made known. Until then, we are trying to keep Justin steady and stable. What a state of limbo he is in.....Good News!!! They have decreased his amount of oxygen necessary. It is down 10%. This all just happened at 4:00 pm. Prayer is working!! A big thank you to Christ Life Church and Pastor Sharon Roam who took time in their services today to pray for Justin. Their specific request was that there would be a positive sign of improvement TODAY. This is a specific answer to that prayer. That you, Lord, for revealing a glimpse of Your omnipotence.
I wanted to close with a message that I hope will inspire each of us to stretch our faith out past the boundaries we set mentally. In Mark 5 there is recorded a story of Jesus healing a dead girl and a sick woman. The little girl was only 12 years old. It doesn't say how long she had been ill. Her father, Jairus, was in pursuit of the Lord's healing touch for her. Jesus seemed to dawdle as he made his way through the crowd of people to reach her, or so it may have seemed to Jairus. He was desperate....time was of the essence. His daughter was dying....Jesus had to hurry. Then a woman reached out and touched the hem of his garment. She had been ill with a blood disorder for 12 years. She believed that Jesus could heal her. When Jesus stopped to ask who touched him and lingered here to talk to this woman, the man's daughter died.
Now, listen to what is said next. Most of us would close our faith at this point. But Jesus says in verse 36, "Did I not tell you to only believe?" Wow!! It wasn't like Jairus wasn't believing...he was, and had for a long time. Yet Jesus asks him to continue believing, even after death. What is Jesus trying to tell us? Do we believe that Jesus can raise the dead today? I believe. I believe that Jesus can do more than our faith allots. He died for us to have it. I am at a point where I will extend my faith as far-reaching as possible and see what Almighty God will reveal of Himself. If His answer is no, than so be it. God ultimately has the final answer. He has a Sovereign, Providential plan for Justin. My prayer is to get into agreement with that and pray according to His Will. Will you believe with me?
When you told Jairus to believe even after his daughter had died, it causes our brains to think outside the realm of our status-quo, modern-day Christianity. But Lord, You are all knowing, omnipotent, and if You will help us, we will stretch out our faith beyond what seems natural. Justin will ultimately succumb to a natural death at some point in his life. We all will. It is appointed unto a man once to die......If this is not Justin's time Lord, then here it is: we are throwing out a lifeline of hope up to the heavens. Catch it Lord, and raise the bar of our faith to new levels of signs, wonders and miracles. Lord, send your mighty warring angels to stand 'round Justin's bed. Lord, You see our vigil for him...heal him Lord, completely.
In Jesus Name,
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