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Wednesday, April 12, 2006 3:56 AM CDT

Huge Journal Recorded Archived that covered most of 2006.

January 1, 2007 11:13PM

We hope that you have a blessed and Happy New Year. Treasure every moment you have with your loved ones and don't waste a moment on unimportant things.

The first day of another year, another year without Jason here with us. We just miss him so much. We left the day after Christmas to spend time in East Tennessee with family. On the last day, I found an empty paint ball container in the woods above mom's house. It was Jason's. Mom has left it right where he left it. It was from the last time that Jason played paintball with his friends. The thought of him alive and having fun with his friends and now gone (though still alive in heaven) made me sob.

December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!!!

Thank you all for stopping by to check on us and sorry that it has been so long since I updated. I tried to update a couple of days ago and I guess it didn't work, but I changed the border that day. Thank you so much for your prayers for us.

I do want to share with everyone that the blood drive on Jason's birthday in his honor was a success. There were 45 donations that day. David, Justin and I all were able to donate. It touched our hearts to see everyone come and give and it meant more than we can say that they did. Many were first time donors and several of Jason's friends came to give, and it wasn't easy for them. We thank everyone who gave and who were involved in any way. We especially thank those ladies in our Sunday school class, Gwen and Rhonda, who organized and worked so hard for weeks so that this would happen. Rhonda asked if we would like to make it an annual event and I do like the idea of having a blood drive in Jason's memory on the 2nd Saturday in December near the time of his birthday every year. It was good to be busy on Jason's birthday and to do something to help others in his memory, instead of sitting and crying all day which I might have done. Jason was truly a blessing from God to us. He had such a sweet spirit and gentle ways. His absence is felt each and every day.

It is now 3 days before Christmas. Jenny, especially, is excited. She has enjoyed buying gifts for everyone with the money she earned from refereering soccer in the fall, and I have enjoyed having her for a shopping buddy. She can be so funny and really a joy to be around.

For me, no holiday will ever be the same without Jason, so there is always a sadness in my heart, behind the smiles and laughter. I always think--"What would Jason have wanted for Christmas?" I must admit that I even bought a shirt before his birthday for him in his size. He would have liked it. It is sort of retro with a picture of a pac-man from the old video game and the words, "Back in the Day," an expression I often heard Jason and his friends use. To me it means, back in the day--before Jason was sick, when he was healthy and strong, when he could run like the wind and his world was full of possiblities for the future.

Certain Christmas songs always make me sad, like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with the lines: Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now.

and the Carpenter's song "Merry Christmas, Darling"

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas darling
We're apart that's true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I'm Christmas-ing with you

Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But every day's a holiday
When I'm near to you
The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say

That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you

Instrumental Interlude

Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I've just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you

(Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas - Darling)
nd the Carpenter's song.

and, of course, "Christmas Shoes" makes me sad--a little boy buying shoes for his dying mother--so that she will look beautiful, "if mama meets Jesus tonight."


Someday our family will all be together again--in heaven.

December 9, 2006 8:57PM
Jason's birthday is in one week. He would have been 21 that day. He has been gone from us for almost 16 months now. I wish that I could see him and hug him and tell him happy birthday. I got him a card. It has sea shells and beach scenes on it. He loved going to the beach. It says: "In this busy world, Son, time passes so quickly, and we can't see each other, to talk, share, and just be together as much as we want...But a day never goes by that you're not thought about with love, smiles, and happy memories, You're a wonderful son--and you're loved very much. Happy Birthday and Happiness Always.

Jason was the very best gift - a gift from God - in 1985, 9 days before Christmas. He was always a joy and a blessing.

A blood drive in his memory will be held that day from 9-1 at our church. No matter where you are, if you can give blood, please do give during this holiday season. Do it in Jason's memory or in memory of your own loved ones. Giving blood is a gift of life.


November 16, 2006 1:12AM
I'm sorry that I haven't posted in so long. We are doing okay. Of course, it is sad to face the holidays and Jason's birthday without him. We still shed many tears as we remember him and wish he could be with us healthy and strong as he used to be before...

I wanted to let everyone know that there will be a blood drive/bone marrow drive in memory of Jason to be held at First Baptist Church Hendersonville, TN on Jason's birthday, December 16, from 9AM-1PM in the Weekley Building. There are ladies taking appointments and they will try to honor those appointments. The goal is 100 pints of blood. This is a wonderful thing to do in memory of Jason. He received several transfusions himself. Blood donations save lives. There are shortages of blood here, especially around the holidays.

Please keep Richie Shannon's dear family in your prayers. Richie had fought rhabdomyosarcoma for 6 years. His battle is with cancer is over. He went to be with Jesus on Thursday, November 23, 2006.

When last I posted on 9/4/06, I asked you to pray for Christi Thomas. She'd had neuroblastoma for 4 years. You probably know that Christi passed away on 9/19/06. She was 9 years old. Please pray for her family.

I had asked you to pray for Jeff, who had fought a mighty battle with rhabdomyosarcoma. He passed away on 10/25/06. Please pray for his family.

Thank you so much for caring and praying. So many children and young people are suffering from pediatric cancer. They are a hidden populations, unnoticed, but there and childhood cancer is the #1 disease killer of children in the USA. It has made me very sad as I read and followed the stories of these precious and much loved children, knowing that not much progress has been made in treating most types of stage 4 childhood cancers in over 20 years.

August 25, 2006

It has been one year today since Jason left us and went to be with His Heavenly Father. We miss him so much. Sometimes I wonder how the world could go on without him or how we could keep on living. I really can't imagine him suffering the way he did those last days for longer. I am so thankful for the hope we have in Jesus Christ that one day we will join him in heaven--a place of no suffering and no tears--a place of joy. We are a year further away from the last time we saw Jason's dear face, but also a year closer to when we will see him again. Often it seems like the Lord's return can't be far away. May we all be ready for that day. Thank you all for your support, all the messages, and your prayers for us while Jason was here and since he has been gone. We thank God that He helps us continue on. It isn't easy, living without Jason. Even remembering happy times, there is sorrow mixed in because he is not here with us. Still I often cry myself to sleep at night, remembering Jason, wishing he was still here and healthy.

Thank you for remembering Jason. If you can, please do something good in his memory--however small or big that may be, even if it is just a kindness shown to someone else. It would be nice to think that something good came of Jason's suffering and his death. Yesterday, in Jason's memory, I took food for the family kitchen and snacks for the children in the pediatric oncology clinic at Vanderbilt. I also took a meal for the staff at the oncology clinic and a card to thank them for all they did and all they do each day. It was the first time that I had been back to Vanderbilt since Jason died. The Lord gave me grace and I did it without breaking down in tears. I think it was good for me to go back.

It means so much to us to know that Jason is remembered and that so many care and are praying.

God bless you all,
June 13, 2006 2:32AM

It has been a very long time since I wrote anything new here. I still stop by almost everyday though. Thank you all who still stop by and visit Jason's page and remember us in prayer during our first summer without him. We have made our first family vacation without Jason. It was to the beach--he loved going to the beach. His stone has been placed and soon I'll get a chance to go and visit the cemetery.

Please pray for Jacob's family--Jacob was 5. He was one of four brothers. He passed away Sunday June 11. He fought adrenocortical carcinoma since 2/04, (same month Jason was diagnosed) when he was only 3. This is a rare cancer of the adrenal gland affecting 15-20 US kids per year.
May 29, 2006

We are back from our vacation. It was good. The house where we stayed was absolutely beautiful. The beach was wonderful. The weather was perfect. It was the 5 of us—only 5 in our family now—along with Trevor (Jason and Justin’s friend), Ethan and Bobby (Josh’s friends) and Arielle (Jenny’s friend). It kept me busy trying to keep everyone fed and it was good to be kept busy. Some days I slept late and I had cereals and such so they could make their own breakfasts. Twice I made a bigger breakfast with bacon and eggs. I made pancakes once. It was great having the kid’s friends along. I know that if it had been just our family, I would have been less busy and even more contemplative. I would have made us all miserable. David was kept busy by two little girls (Jenny, especially doesn't like being referred to as little) who needed an adult to go to the pool or beach. I think that he liked spending time with them, but after the trip he told me that 45 minutes of their squeals as they held on to him when the waves broke was about all he could stand.

The girls and I walked almost two miles down the beach one day. I stopped and wrote Jason's name and dates in the sand with the words--we miss you so much. I know the waves soon erased what I wrote, but he is always on my mind, in my heart and thoughts. David started a tradition when Jason and Justin were just babies. He'd build a big sand castle and we would take a picture of the boys in it. Later as the boys grew up, Jason took over the job of building the sand castle. On our last day there I built a sandcastle just in memory of my Jason. It was big enough to hold 8 of us while David took the picture It was actually hard work building it and it took hours. David noticed a little 2 year old who wanted so much to play in the sand castle. After he took the picture David went and told the little boy's mother and grandmother that we were finished with it and the little boy could play in it now. ...and I thought of Jason at the age of two playing on the beach in the sand.

I have been cleaning a bit. Cleaning is definitely not my strong point and actually during Jason’s two years of treatment I barely had time to keep the clothes washed, dishes washed and food in the refrigerator and on the table and very little time for cleaning. So things piled up. It has been 9 months since he passed away. I know as I go through things that there will be constant reminders of what happened to Jason, but I don't want anyone to rush me or do this for me because I want the reminders. So today I went through some things that were piled on a tray in the bathroom beside Jason’s old bedroom (the bedroom he used most of his life, until his friends moved him down into Justin’s bedroom). I found his work ID card with his picture and his library card. He won’t need those anymore. I’ll put them in his drawers with all his clothes that he will never wear again. I found a tab that went over a screw in the new chair I bought him not long before he died. I tried sitting in his old chair back then and it was very uncomfortable and hurt my back and I felt so bad that he'd had such an uncomfortable chair with his back already hurting from the cancer. I went that very day to buy him a new chair—the most comfortable chair I could find for him to use at his computer. I also found a note that nurses at Dr. Burris clinic had given me with the e-mail address of a long term rhabdo survivor that I never wrote to. It would have been so nice if Jason could have been a long term survivor, but, for us at the time the note was given, it was already obviously too late, without a miracle healing after relapse one and two and spreading cancer on the trial drugs. There were appointment cards and business cards of people who said during Jason’s treatment, “Here’s my phone number. If you ever need me, just call.” The tray containing these, plus lots of other things, like Jenny’s nail polish, some thread, pens, pencils, buttons, etc. was in there from a time when I served food on it to Jason and a friend. I was just putting extra soap away and found partially filled bottles of Jason’s Magic Mouthwash and his chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse. The dates on them are 3/2/04 and 2/28/04. They were for mouth sores that chemo might cause and were given during his first hospital stay. He didn’t use all of them. Today I poured them down the kitchen sink. He’ll never need them again.

David called me out to look at our three little cherry trees. They are just little sour cherries—the kind most people call pie cherries. They are three years old now and are 7-8 feet tall. This is the first year they have had many cherries on them, and the cherries are ripening. While we were on vacation birds discovered them, so they partially ate a lot. We picked the rest of the ripe ones. Even the cherries are a reminder of Jason. I remember the summer of 1987 when Jason was 18 months old and the cherries were ripe at my mom and dad’s house. While we weren’t looking, he climbed to the top of my dad’s ladder which he'd set between the cherry trees where my dad had been picking. When we saw Jason, he was sitting precariously near the top of the ladder eating cherries, pit and all. He loved them. I wish that I had gotten a picture of him there, but seeing him so high on the ladder scared us all. We just wanted him down. We didn’t fuss at him—just got him off the ladder quickly. He never got to eat cherries from our new trees.

We had Vacation Bible School at our church last week. Jenny kept reminding me for months to sign up to help, but I delayed and finally someone called and asked me if I would help in first grade and I said I would. There were 9 first grade class with about 24 children in each class. Over 1800 came to VBS. It was wonderful and exciting. The time flew by. 152 children were saved. On Friday, 62 were baptized.
"As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken. You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love. So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back. Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin. ~anonymous~
May 1, 2006 11:47PM

Thank you all so much for continuing to stop by Jason's page. I don't update it very often now. We still so appreciate your prayers. Every day we are reminded of Jason in some way--of course by all the pictures in our house, but also whenever I see a child of any age from 1-18, especially if they share any resemblance with Jason--for instance, a little blonde haired, blue eyed toddler will make me think of the happy times we had when Jason was that age. There are many bittersweet emotions. A tall lanky teenager will remind me of an older Jason. We are planning a beach vacation (kid's choice). Jason loved being on the beach and our last trip to the beach was a family vacation with 5 of Jason's friends in the summer of 2004, a month after we learned that Jason's cancer had relapsed. Jason was very quiet and introspective that week. Of course, whether we speak his name or not on the trip, Jason will be in our thoughts and hearts. How we miss him.

I very well know how much our children would just like for the tears to be over. I just can't help this time of grief and only pray that someday I can look at his pictures without crying. My mother said that I told her that I didn't want her to cry forever after my brother died in the car wreck in 1972. I wanted her to stop crying and to be okay again. I'm sure that is what Josh, Justin and Jenny want, too. Thank you for praying for our family.

I have updated the prayer requests, below. Kainen and Eric are in heaven now. If you feel led to please visit their websites (you can copy and paste them--they are given below) and leave a message of condolence. Richie needs our prayers now too. Please continue to remember Linda Martin and the children. She no longer updates the journal, it is gone. They are moving. The tornadoes affected their neighborhood and slightly damaged their house--Karissa has been terrified ever since. So please pray for them. Thanks you.

In Christ,

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for continuing to visit Jason's page and for your prayers for us. I know that I don’t update it as often as I did. We are learning to live without our dear son here with us. It is not something any parent would ever want to do, but we can’t bring him back. Sometimes people say that Jason is always with us. We do have our memories and pictures, but they could never substitute for him, living and breathing in our sight. We believe that Jason is in heaven with Jesus, completely loved, completely healed, completely happy, filled with joy, in the presence of God and the angels. Granted we don’t know what heaven is like, but I just don’t think Jason sees us here-sad and crying because we miss him so much.

Well, Easter is almost here and we praise God for Easter and the hope that we have because Jesus Christ died for us on that cross and was raised again. Because of what Christ did, we have the hope of eternal life. This life is not the end. There is something much better to come.

In I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul wrote these words: “ But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

I wrote about the recent tornadoes in middle Tennessee with a link to a page where unedited videos of some of the damage is available. This is in the most recent journal history

Please continue to be in prayer for the families who lost loved ones and homes in these terrible storms. It looked like a war zone. It will take a long time to rebuild and recover.
April 12, 2006
Please remember these dear children in your prayers:

Eric Layer of Columbia, SC
He is 18. He has battled rhabdomyosarcoma for 3 years. It has relapsed. Like Jason, he has been surrounded by friends who have made things more bearable for him. Eric and his family need prayer right now. Please pray that God would heal Eric. Eric also has been healed as he passed away on 4/28/06 which was his brother's 11th birthday. There's a news article called "A Noble Heart Cracks" --the link is

http://www.wltx.com/news/news19.aspx?storyid=36718 – recent news article—there’s a video.

Saturday, February 18, 2006 12:24 AM CST

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for continuing to visit Jason's page and for your prayers for us.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Tornadoes hit our county-Sumner County in Tennessee on Friday. Our family is fine. Our neighborhood wasn't touched. Our electricity was out for only 2 hours. Cable TV and internet access were gone for 2 days, so I couldn't even look at Jason's page. Even though we didn't see a tornado, it was scary. Jenny, Josh and I were out on Interstate 65 driving home and listening to the radio as the tornadoes were touching down. We have heard that over 800 homes were severely damaged or completely destoryed. It happened in the early afternoon--around 2:30? Some people died in the storms. We have heard stories of God's protection during the storms--35 children were moved into one section of the church building in a preschool program and that was the only part of the building not affected. The storms were on the ground for a long distance and yet we have heard one teacher say that the tornado touched down on the school playground and then skipped over their building. Because the tornadoes were at 2:30, fewer people were home--this saved lives. Fine brick home were leveled to the ground. Goodlettsville, Hendersonville and Gallatin all had a lot of storm damage. We drove up to the Toyota dealership/Vol State campus-a heavily damaged area--it is hard to even imagine the destruction--I can't even describe it. Hundreds of brand new cars and trucks had been tossed around by the storm and left crumpled. All the vehicles' windows were broken.

To see pictures and video of what these tornadoes did you can go to: (http://nashville.about.com/od/tvstations/

Both Channel 4 and 5 have videos of storm damage. To see the extent of storm damage view the video of Sumner County – Unedited Damage Video found on the Channel 5 website.

Please be in prayer for the families who lost loved ones and homes in these terrible storms.
Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The weather here in Tennessee continues to warm up as the official day of the beginning of spring nears. Some days it has even gotten as high as the upper 60's, but the nights are still pretty cold. Jenny's soccer practices started last week, so every Tuesday and Friday nights that's where I'll be for an hour. Perhaps I can start walking and walk some of my excess weight off. Drakes Creek Park, is really a lovely place to walk and the paved trail around the huge soccer fields is over a mile long.

Last week, senior superlatives were announced at the tutorial. If I heard correctly, Justin was voted Mr. HCA, Best Hair and Worst Driver. I guess he best hair is understandable--though he does look pretty shaggy sometimes, after all he is known for his hair and some people only know him for his nickname (which he loves)--"FRO." Privately though, he told me that he disagreed with the worst driver part, but was at a loss to tell us who has a worse driving record. Our insurance is substantially more because of the wreck he had - backing his dad's car into Trevor's truck and the Civic that he drives is pretty beat up (whenever there's a new dent on the Civic-David noticed one last week-Justin's response is ususally one of shock and "I don't know anything about it"-David has stopped even asking if it is a small dent) and the tickets he has gotten, but that really has been a while and I think that he is a better driver than he used to be. Hope our insurance doesn't pay attention to senior superlatives. How could they? They won't be getting a copy and we sure won't tell. He was supposed to have his senior page for the annual ready to turn in last week, but we had not gotten his senior picture taken yet. So his senior picture was taken last Thursday and I should have the pictures back today, so we can finish his page--the photographer just called to say that Fed-Ex didn't leave package across the street as they usually do on the day they don't open til 3 and now the pictures are back at the Fed-Ex place at Metro Center--so Justin will have to pick them up tomorrow and we will hopefully have the rest of the page ready so we can just add the new picture.

On Thursday, Joshua and Jenny both have drawings entered in the art contest at their school, but it turns out there are so many entries that it is no longer a contest. I guess it has become more of an art display.

We are thinking of going to East Tennessee when the kids have spring break. David's dad has been pretty sick and has had several emergency room visits in the last months and David hasn't been able to go up there all this time. I want to spend the whole week with my parents. A weekend never seems long enough to be up there for me, but David likes going for just a weekend. Justin is the same as his dad, so maybe they can drive up together. We will have to drive separate cars--that will be good (except for the expense-gas has sure gone up in price again)since David's parents sold their second car, David can have his own car there. I told David it would be nice to have Jason's stone placed while we are up there, if it hasn't been placed already. I need to call to find out if it can be done.

Lately, I have been feeling such grief over the fact that we couldn't save Jason's life--that we all failed him. Look, really I know that God is in control, but sometimes I feel that as Jason's mother, I should have known something was wrong with him long before he was diagnosed. In a way we knew something was wrong. We knew that he was depressed, but not the reason why. We could never have guessed that he had cancer. When we brought Jason home from the hospital after he was born--what was in our hearts was: protect this baby, keep him safe. What a responsibility. What a privilege. What a joy he was. Yet we didn't keep him safe, and we couldn't protect him from the one thing that would take his life and when the cancer was finally discovered, it was too late to save his life. Was I too preoccupied to notice what was happening to my strong son? I loved him so. Along with this I realize that many children are diagnosed at stage 4 cancer so that we are not the only ones. If Jason's cancer had made itself known sooner--if there had been a lump or anything to give us a clue... Other times I wonder--what if and imagine other scenarios where things might have been different. If he had been in public schools instead of homeschooled, would we have noticed sooner. If only we had known that dogs can detect cancer and paid attention to Copper when he wouldn't leave Jason's foot alone in 2001--2 years before he was diagnosed. If only...we had not moved here and had lived close to the grandparents all these years. Many times when we lived there I had to take the kids to the doctor just to satisfy the grandparent's worries. My mom or David's mom would keep on insisting that I take one of the kids to the doctor and sometimes they were right (and sometimes not). The grandparents might have noticed something was wrong with him. Then, sometimes I wonder, if we had never moved here...would this have even happened. Choices were made. We have no idea if any of those choices made a difference in what happened. When I said to Jason--you were so perfect--he said, "I was never perfect, mom. This cancer was always there waiting to grow." But I don't believe that it was always there. We just don't know what made those cells become cancerous. Just because they say that there is no known cause for most childhood cancers, doesn't mean that there isn't a cause--it just means that they don't know what it is now. So these kind of thoughts torture me.

My best friend tells me that these are Satan's lies and that I shouldn't dwell on these things. It makes me very sad when my mind goes to the place where I am thinking, "I am so sorry that we failed you, my sweet Jason."

Last night Justin and I were going through picture albums to try to choose pictures for his senior page. It made me sad to look at all those pictures: the happy times we had, the trips, family reunions, being together, our family growing, Jason as the respected big brother, Jason's smiling face, and be reminded again of all we have lost and how the cancer took him away bit by bit over those many months, it even took his memory of those happy times away from him--which makes me extremely sad that he couldn't remember the happy times. My friend says, "He remembers them all now." I wish that we knew more about what is happening in heaven. I wish that I knew what Jason is doing right now and that I could see him smiling there with Jesus.

When I read about other kids with cancer, it seems like cancer is taking away some of the very best kids.
Saturday, February 25, 2006 1:31 PM
Six months today. It has been six months since Jason left us and six months is hard. I miss him so much. Sometimes to me it seems as if our whole house feels like a coffin without him here. No wonder Justin stays away so much. It is so quiet without Jason and all his friends. Jason’s trampoline sits empty in the yard. Sometimes I imagine what it was like in the summer of 2003 when so many guys and girls came. Our driveway and the roadside in front of our house was filled with cars. I could here them laughing and talking late into the night as they sat on the trampoline. So many sat around the sides that the frame finally bent. For Christmas, 2003, we got Jason a new trampoline, but he never really got to enjoy it because soon he was diagnosed with cancer. I remember listening to Katie and Jason talking in the dark as they lay on the trampoline looking up at a sky full of stars one night just last summer, wishing that I could hold on to the moment forever. I couldn’t really hear what they were saying, just their sweet voices. There are reminders everywhere in my house. It is hard to look at his picture and not cry.

Spring is coming to Tennessee. The birds have returned and will soon be nesting. The daffodils and pansies are blooming. Spring has always been my favorite season because of the mild weather and new life everywhere. This will be our first spring without our dear Jason. His stone will be placed on his grave as soon as the weather is warm enough in the mountains where he is buried.

February 10, 2006
We’ve been sick. There’s a terrible cold going around. For a few days I was so sick with this cold that I didn't feel like even going downstairs to check e-mail. We all ran a fever and the cold just seems to hang on, so it was probably better we couldn’t go skiing at Paouli Peaks. That was the weekend Joshua started getting sick. It would have been dreadful being this sick up there away from home. By Monday almost 2 weeks ago, Jenny and I were sick, too and by the end of the week, David and Justin were sick.

Because he and his buddies were so disappointed about not getting to ski, Justin thought they just had to do something. They planned a trip to Louisville, KY to skateboard on the weekend we were supposed to ski. Just three teenage guys. Well one is 20, and the others are 18 and 15. They stayed in a hotel and skateboarded at the huge park there. We approved the trip before we watched the weather, which said turning colder and snowing, When we saw that we thought the trip was a bad idea and tried to talk them out of going but nothing would stop them. They said they had a good time even though it was cold.
Justin didn’t get home until very late Sunday night. He had caught the same cold. He just tried to keep going all week without slowing down, but his fever kept coming back and he finally had to call in sick to work one day.

As I thought about Justin making this trip, it made me really sad--sad that Justin is old enough to do this and so independent and I’m not ready to just let him go, and yet he is so ready to be free of us, and he thinks that we (his parents and family) are boring. The idea of letting him go makes me sad.

The other thing that makes me sad is that Jason never got to make a trip like this with his friends. He and my brother Brian had even talked about making a trip. Oh, I know that he got to go on the beach trip with his friends. But parents went, too, and someone had to make sure that Jason took his medicine each day. It really wasn’t just a care-free trip because he was dying of cancer. He would have loved to go on a “Road Trip.” That’s what Justin called this—“my first roadtrip.” When Jason was 18 and 2 months he was diagnosed with cancer, and now Justin is 18 and 4 months and having a ball. He comes and goes as he pleases. It seems like I hardly ever see him. He is always at work or with his friends. When Jason was just this age18 and 4 months, he’d had chemotherapy for 2 months and had lost his hair.

I cried a lot the first week I had my cold. There were many thoughts of Jason. How can there be no tears in heaven? When I see him again, I think I will surely cry as I run to him to say “Honey, I’ve missed you so much.” One day I thought I could see his face reflected in the windshield of a car and it made me want to see him more. Even if it is just his fleeting image in my memories. To see him running, so fast and leaping over tall fences, effortlessly, the way he always did. Climbing to the top of a tree. Just to see his face and the subtle changes as a smile begins.To hear his voice, his laughter, Even if it is only in a dream.

I went to Kroger’s in Mt. Juliet to try to find gluten-free products. David’s doctor wants him to try no wheat for a month to see if it helps his allergies. At the check out there were movies for sale and one was “The Way We Were” – I picked it up. Yes, the theme song was “Memories.” I thought about buying it. I would kind of like to see it again. I just barely remember what it was about, but not much. Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford star in it. I remember just part of the song,
“Memories, like the colors of my mind. Misty, water-color memories of the way we were.” Even just that part of the song makes me sad. So I didn’t buy it. I just didn’t think that I could stand to watch it. Too many tears—I don’t need a movie To make me cry more right now.

A mother’s love is a protective kind of love and yet when your child has cancer or some other dread disease—even a mother’s love can’t protect and make them well again. I could only pray and hope as I watched Jason grow weaker and weaker.

Do I have bitter thoughts? Are they bitter? I don’t know. I just wish things could have turned out differently. Well, still I think—why did it have to be Jason? He never questioned why. He just took his treatments and the surgery in as much stride as he could and went on. He tried to just be normal, just be himself.

And sometimes I wonder—why didn’t we see those little signs and take him to the doctor. I wonder—oh God you gave me a son and now you’ve taken him back again.
I wanted him. I hurt so much. Why did you take him? You knew how much I would love him when You gave him to me. How could You take him? He was young and you made him strong and good. There was so much more for him to do here. So much more life to be lived. Why?

Last week, Mrs. Jarboe gave me the free verse poetry that he wrote. It was in the spring when he was 17. His depression was so obvious in the poems.He refused to go to a psychiatrist for it. I wanted to take him to one, but it wasn’t a psychiatrist he needed. A psychiatrist would never have thought of cancer. I wonder if there are other teens who become so depressed they commit suicide or they live risky lives and die, when they actually have some serious disease process going on – like cancer and it is never diagnosed. I believe in his heart that Jason knew something serious was very wrong long before he was diagnosed with cancer. Even he didn’t know what it was. I believe his severe depression in his Junior year of high school was caused by the cancer.

We learned last Friday that another child, just across the river in Mt. Juliet, has just been diagnosed with the same type of cancer that Jason had. She is a little girl, only 5 or 6 years old, named Savannah. It breaks my heart to think of her having to go through cancer treatment.

February 18, 2006
It has been almost 2 weeks since we all got sick with this cold. Everyone seems to be getting well, but still coughing. My cough seems the worst and my voice is almost gone. It is hard to talk at times.

There is ice coming down outside right now. This time I think the weather man didn’t miss the forecast for snow in middle Tennessee, but the slides for the kids to play in the snow are 300 miles away in East Tennessee where we left them at Christmas. I hope that it isn’t all ice and that we don’t lose power.

Best wishes to all. Please treasure every moment you have with your loved ones. No one ever knows what tomorrow holds.


Please remember our friends in prayer:
http://www3.caringbridge.org/nv/richie/ - he has rhabdomyosarcoma like Jason. Pray that the tumors would shrink and for a cure. Recent scans were done.
http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/kevinmartin/ Kevin passed away on New Year’s Day. Pray for all of his family and friends, especially Linda and the kids, his parents.
http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/connorhunley/ - comfort and strength for his parents
http://www2.caringbridge.org/ca/sriya/ - Sriya has passed away, please pray for her parents

In the last few days Sean(18)(died 11/25/05), Rob(20)(died 12/15/05) and Amanda(8)(died 12/8/05), who each had rhabdomyosarcoma, have passed away. Other parents have joined the list with newly diagnosed children. I just learned that a sweet little girl named Joanna died from rhabdo on 12/22/05—she was only 6 years old. Other parents have joined the list with newly diagnosed children. A few children have finished treatment and are cancer free for now—and I pray they continue to be so. It is hard watching children continue to suffer and die from this cancer, knowing how slow the research is. I pray that researchers have a major breakthrough this year that will soon lead to better treatment.

In Christ,

Tuesday February 7, 12:03 AM

Hi Everyone,

This was a sad anniversary for us.
Two years ago on February 4, on a Tuesday, Jason had his first bone marrow biopsy done while wide-awake in an adult hemotology/oncology office. His main symptoms were paleness and tiredness, pain in his sternum and lab tests that showed pancytopenia (all cells low - low red cells, low platelets, low white cells). We went out to eat at one of his favorite restaurants that night- Outback Steak House. The next day we received a call saying that he had leukemia and that he needed to be admitted to the hospital. He spent that night in the hospital. On February 6, 2004, he had another bone marrow biopsy done at Vanderbilt Children Hospital and a central line (a port-a-cath) placed. That day we heard a name that we wish we had never had to hear: rhabdomyosarcoma. From the beginning they knew the translocation t(2,13) alveolar, but it wasn't until days later that I came back and asked what translocation he had. They had to search to find the primary tumor. It was finally found with a PET scan in his left foot the following Monday. The radiologist almost didn't do a scan of his foot that day. She already had him off the machine when she looked again at what the doctor had ordered. He had to go back in to have his feet scanned.

A year later around Feb. 1, 2005, Jason noticed the first lumps that indicated he had relapsed.

Who would have thought that I would be sitting here 2 years later crying, missing him--that he would only have one more birthday and one more Christmas with us before he would be gone?

Some days I am fine and go all day with dry eyes and I think, "What's wrong with me? I should cry some for him everyday." Other days, like today, I am very sad, just remembering what happened on this day. Grief comes in waves, sometimes the waves are huge and other times they are smaller. This day was a hard day.

Saturday, Feb. 4--Joshua started running a fever. By Sunday morning his temp. was 101.4. Sunday afternoon, both Jenny and I started getting sick, too. Joshua and Jenny seemed to be feeling better today, but I still have had chills and fever (102.6 last time I checked). I have been extremely tired. I wonder if it is the flu.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 2:34 PM CST

Thank you so much for stopping by. I will write more soon, but I just wanted to let you know that Feb 4th, 2006 is World Cancer Day. The focus this year is on Childhood Cancer with the theme "My Child Matters." There is a special emphasize on early detection--which is so very important. Unfortunately childhood cancer is often at a more advanced stage when first diagnosed. Sometimes there are few symptoms and often no one even suspects cancer in a child who had always been healthy.
"More than 12,400 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer every year, and an estimated 2,300 children will die from cancer in 2005." The only early symptom of Jason's cancer was cramps in his foot. Often children with leukemia just have pain in their legs as an early symptom.

Here is a website listing the signs of childhood cancer. You can also order Gold Ribbon Products here in support of childhood cancer awareness:

September is officially Childhood Cancer Awareness month in the USA. I noticed that February 15 is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.

Please visit the following websites to learn more about World Cancer Day: http://www.uicc.org/ and http://www.uicc.org/index.php?id=1165 along with the many links on their site.

To help others who have seriously ill children including children with cancer, you might consider donating in some way to a Ronald McDonald House in your state. Because we lived close to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, we didn't have to use Ronald McDonald House. For families that live further away RMH means the world. The website for the one in Nashville is http://www.rmhnashville.com/ One of the pages there has a wish list of things families who are staying there need. If you are interested in helping some of the families that are going through this cancer journey, please consider sending gift cards/gift certificates of fast food restuarants, such as McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys to Ronald McDonald House.

Also, snacks can be taken to the family kitchen of the pediatric oncology floor and to the pediatric oncology clinic. The days spent at the clinic are very long for children receiving treatment and their families.


You can help by sharing these facts :
***Cancer is the #1 disease killer of children --- cancer kills more children than AIDS, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and congenital anomalies COMBINED.
***The incidence of children's cancer is increasing at a rate of 1very year.
***In fact, the rate of cancer in young adults and teens is increasing at a greater rate than any other cancer, including breast, prostrate, and lung.
***Cancer in children has no known cause, and is usually not diagnosed in its early stages.

I’m sorry that I haven’t updated the site for a while. It has been 2 weeks since I updated. That seems like a long time. Thank you all for still stopping by, praying and leaving messages. It really means the world to us to know that you care. I do stop by and check for messages every day, but it seems as though all the words have been said about my sorrow and grief that Jason is gone. What is there left for me to say? Yet I still cry and I still miss him every day. I drive by significant places and remember. I long to touch his hand or run my fingers through his hair again, to hear him laugh, to hear his voice, just to see him smile. I walk by the spot in church where he and his friends all used to sit. It was right behind where we sit and I could always look back and see him there. They are all gone off to college so none of them are there now. But as I walk by I remember and I am sad. I can sing the songs at church now, even the ones that made me cry before when Jason was here and suffering and now I don’t cry. I thought this week how I wish that I had told him one last time how very proud I am of him and how much I love him before he went to sleep never to wake up. That night when he said, “Mom, when I quit treatment in December (2004) it seemed like they just gave up on me at Vanderbilt.” All I said was, “I know, honey.” You see, I knew that once he quit treatment and said “I don’t want any more scans” that they would just give up on him and when the cancer came back it would be spread too far for them to consider treating him again. But there was no talking him into continuing treatment. I had begged and pleaded just to get him to continue a few more months and he had come to the end. He said he was just tired of feeling bad all the time—so he quit. When he said those words that last night when I could still talk to him, that's when I should have said, "I am so proud of you, Jason, and I love you so much." and I should have hugged him one more time.

I made tacos this week for the first time since Jason died. It was one of his favorite homemade meals. As I made them I remembered him and thought of him smiling, talking and enjoying tacos. I make them using soft shells. Sometimes Jason used his hand as a plate, filling the shell as it rested in his hand. Another night I cried as I made a fruit salad, another one of Jason’s favorite things.

This is from last week:

I signed up for a class at church last Wednesday night. I was just walking by the room where the class will be and thought—I want to do that. We’ve been at First Baptist for almost 10 years and this is the first Wednesday night Bible study I’ve ever gone to. It is called Do You Think I’m Beautiful? by Angela Thomas and is a study on the Beatitudes. It should be very good and the lady who is teaching the class is wonderful. When we first moved here, Jenny was only one year old and she was in the midst of separation anxiety. She would cry until she was exhausted and still be sobbing in her sleep when I came to pick her up. I had never had to leave her before and couldn’t stand to leave her crying like that in the nursery for more than one hour. I ended up staying in the nursery a lot in the 18-24 months age group. Even after Jenny got over her separation anxiety and moved to other classes, I kept the nursery along with a dear lady who had become my friend and we always stayed with the same age group. With love and gentleness, even the most timid, teary child was happy and playing within a few weeks in our little class. Even though after a while most of those little children forgot us—I’ll never forget them. I had to quit keeping the nursery at church when Jason got sick because we were at the hospital so much and I haven’t gone back yet.

I am helping in the nursery at Jenny’s co-op on Wednesday for at least the next 6 weeks. In early afternoon, I get to watch the art teacher’s three little girls. The youngest is about 6 months old and just learning to roll over. The oldest is perhaps 4. They are precious. There are two other little babies there at the same time with their mothers. Later in the afternoon, I get to take care of a little boy who is about a year old. He has spina bifida, but I noticed that he can move his legs a little and hopefully will walk one—perhaps with braces. The last two weeks I have had to walk with him a lot to keep him happy, but he did better the second week. It was warm enough for me to take him outside and he enjoyed being out. I love children. Keeping them reminds me of when my children were small. I was so happy.

I cried this week when I saw Rascal Flatt’s video of “Skin” about a cancer patient who has lost her hair and it is time for the prom. Her boyfriend shaves his hair to show his support and love. The song says something about dancing around and around with her very first true love… How I wish that could have happened for Jason and that he could have recovered. I also cried when I read the beautiful poetry/prose that a lady posted on the neuroblastoma list. It is her husband who has suffered from that cancer for three years now. Her words touched my heart so and I wish that I could post them here, but they are her words and I haven’t asked permission, though I did thank her for saying what we all feel as we watch loved ones going through cancer and its treatment. Another child died this week—one who had Ewing’s sarcoma and had fought the battle for years. There were new ones who have found the Rhabdokids list, newly diagnosed. Since 250-350 children in the US are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma each year, that means that between 500-700 children have been diagnosed with it since we found out that Jason had this cancer.

I think about Jason’s stone. It won’t be placed on his grave until spring. I think about going there and just laying on the ground and crying his grave and talking to him, though he won’t hear me. It was too cold at Thanksgiving and at Christmas to stay there for very long—to just linger at his grave. It seems as though all the words have all been said and there is nothing left to say and my Jason is gone away from us, from me. I can’t touch him, hug him, talk to him. He is not here anymore. He’s in heaven—a little while before me like he said. I am so sad that he is gone. The loss seems to permeate my thoughts. I guess I just need to spend more time in God’s word and let his promises permeate my mind. After all Jason said, “I want to see you in heaven.”

Justin seems to have so little regard for spiritual things these days—he hasn’t been to church in weeks. He’s worked at Arby’s so long that he can have the hours he wants. So he can be off most weekends and yet he doesn’t go to church. He stays up late and sleeps in Sunday morning, and then, instead of Sunday night church, which is more geared to youth, he goes out with his friends skateboarding. In fact, all he wants to do is play Halo and skateboard. We don’t even see him very much either. He is working or out with friends. Jason was very concerned about Justin and his choice of friends and activities—he spoke to his granny about it the weekend before he died and asked her to please talk to Justin. Justin has changed somewhat, but still his focus seems wrong, so please pray for him.

I heard a couple of new songs these past weeks. One of them is #1 on the country charts - "Let Jesus Take the Wheel" and it is really about letting Jesus have control of your life. It is really neat that it is #1. Another song by Brad Paisley "When I Get Where I'm Going" is about heaven. It is hard though not to "cry for loved ones who have gone on to heaven." We miss them so. Someday we will see Jason again.

"When I Get Where I'm Going"
Brad Paisley/with Dolly Parton

When I get where I'm going
On the far side of the sky
The first thing that I'm gonna do
Is spread my wings and fly

I'm gonna land beside a lion
And run my fingers through his mane
Or I might find out what it's like
To ride a drop of rain

Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will shed the sins and struggles
I have carried all these years
And I'll leave my heart wide open
I will love and have no fear
Yeah when I get where I'm going
Don't cry for me down here

I'm gonna walk with my grand daddy
And he'll match me step for step
And I'll tell him how I missed him
Every minute since he left
Then I'll hug his neck

[Repeat chorus]

So much pain and so much darkness
In this world we stumble through
All these questions I can't answer
So much work to do

But when I get where I'm going
And I see my maker's face
I'll stand forever in the light
Of his amazing grace
Yeah when I get where I'm going
There'll be only happy tears
I will love and have no fear
When I get where I'm going
Yeah when I get where I'm going

In Christ,
David and Pam

Monday, January 9, 2006 12:13 AM CST

Hi Everyone,
I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and that this brand New Year is filled with blessings from God for all of you and for us, too. I am sorry it has taken me so long to update the page--it was just hard to get back to it after our trip. Thank you so much for stopping by and for praying for us.

Christmas is over--the Christmas I especially dreaded because it was our first Christmas without Jason. We lived through it. We allowed the kids to open their gifts on the morning of the 24th because it is so hard to take everything on a trip. I wondered what Jason would have wanted if he were here. Last year I got him a boxed set of movies that he really seemed to enjoy. I talked on the phone to my cousin’s wife, Angie, a day or two before Christmas and just cried and cried about Jason and wishing things could be different. Angie and Ira have actually received good news—the two little girls they have been trying to adopt for 4 years are finally really theirs—the adoption is final and we are so thankful. This was the best Christmas gift they could have gotten. It is bittersweet because the oldest daughter died when all the girls were placed back in their parent’s home. If Angie and Ira could have gotten them back then, they would have adopted three little girls instead of two.

We spent Christmas in East Tennessee as usual. We got a late start leaving because Justin had to work at Arby’s on Saturday the twenty-fourth. He actually got off earlier than he was scheduled to (2 PM instead of 4 PM) but I still wasn’t completely packed to go. It was nearly 6:00 before we left. As we were leaving town we stopped by Justin’s workplace and picked up Arby’s sandwiches for everyone because everything would be closed on Christmas Eve. The first part of the trip I spent crying as I thought of Jason and wishing he could be with us for Christmas (but not suffering—I wouldn’t ever want him to suffer again). David drove the whole way, then we dropped him off at his parent’s house and drove on to my parent’s house. David spent Christmas Day with his parents and went to Tommy and Becky Bishop’s house for Christmas Dinner. It was a quiet day at my parent’s. Only my mom’s twin sister Ella (we call her Ellie) came. She just had a hip joint replacement surgery 10 days before, and was in so much pain. She had this surgery done before when she was 47, but the joint had worn out. She and Mom are 70 now. This was a very difficult surgery for her—especially at her age. Usually many more people come to Mom’s for Christmas dinner. Later in the afternoon, Ellie’s daughter’s family came, with their two little girls. One is a year younger than Jenny. Jason’s absence was felt so much. He would have loved the food—he always did and then they would have played video games all afternoon and we would have heard him laughing and talking. It was quiet…so much quieter without Jason.

We woke up Monday morning to find the world had been transformed into a winter wonderland and it was continuing to snow. About 3-4 inches of snow covered everything and I thought it was beautiful. Mom hates it though because they get so much snow there. At our house we seldom get any. It continued to snow all morning. Because Mom’s backyard is a slope in the shade of the house and trees, the snow stayed there until Wednesday when it started to rain and turned to slush. The kids played in it each night in the dark with inexpensive little slick foam sleds I had bought last year. I got four of the sleds in hopes that Jason would be okay and they all would be able to play in the snow together one day. As Joshua, Justin and Jenny played in the snow I cried for Jason, remembering him--his zest for life—his energy, his joy, his laughter, his smiles—the good times we had. I shoveled Mom’s driveway off—at least the part behind my car—so that I could more easily pull back in later and we left for David’s parent’s house. Mimi had her Christmas dinner on Monday afternoon. David’s sister, Pam, was there with her three children, Jimmy (age 23), Jessie (age 21) and Zach (soon to be 13). We hardly ever get to see them. Jimmy lives in Texas and the others live in Colorado. They never got to see Jason at all in the 18 months of his battle with cancer. Jessie was only a year older than Jason. At one point she went to her bedroom to cry without telling anyone, because no one mentioned Jason and she felt so sad that he wasn’t with us. I gave pictures of Jason and siblings from the sessions at Sears and Olan Mills to everyone—framed ones for Mimi and PaBob.

The next couple of days we just spent at my mom’s. We had wanted to go over the mountain to visit other relatives, but it was so cold and I was concerned that at the top of the mountain the roads might be icy. My cousin’s two little girls spent one night with us. Jenny spent one night at another cousin’s and got to see a cow being milked for the first time. When asked what she thought of it she just said, “Cows are big!!!” One evening I took Kentucky Fried Chicken to my Aunt Ellie as she was keeping her granddaughters. Mom’s sister Euvada was there spending the night with her. Late another night I went down and gave her an insulin shot. She is diabetic, but normally only takes tablets. During this time of healing from her surgery they want her on insulin shots as it is supposed to help her heal faster. She doesn’t want to learn how to give them to herself, because she doesn’t want to stay on them.

Finally on Friday it warmed up enough that I felt it was safe to go over the big mountain to visit Angie and Ira. We saw a salt truck go up the mountain about an hour before we did. Not surprisingly, there was still lots of snow at the top—although it had melted at lower elevations and the road was wet—as though it had recently thawed. Our visit was nice, but the time we had was just too short. This was the only day that I could have had a chance to visit Jason's grave. I had wanted to take a small arrangement of flowers to place on the grave, but Justin was in such a hurry and really I didn't find flowers to take. Justin just had to go to the concrete skate park in Johnson City on this one nice day to have Joshua videotape him doing some tricks. Then we went on to Kingsport to take our good friends, Don and Jewel, out to eat. Because of a misunderstanding (actually his mom said she didn’t hear David when he said that we were taking Don and Jewel out) she was very upset with us and very short with me when I walked into the house to pick up David. When I asked, "Connie, how are you doing?" She angrily said, "Fine" and wouldn't look at the me, David or our children. I was totally shocked. She had expected we would all stay for a spaghetti dinner she had prepared for us and for Pam and her kids. She was over it by the next day, but I hated to have hurt her feelings and ruined her plans.

During the time up there I had a long talk with my mom, about when Jason’s cancer might have begun. In June of 2001 when Jason on the church trip, in which he got a very severe sunburn. He was 16 years old. He floated around all day at the water park for hours and hours (like 6-8 hours) with no sunscreen on. His burn was so severe that he had to go to a clinic a few days later when he started to swell. The night he was sunburned, I was at my mom’s reading in bed when I heard his voice in pain distinctly say “Mom…”—yet he was hundreds of miles away. His voice was so clear that I turned and said, “What honey?” It was weird and I started praying for him immediately. We wouldn’t learn about his sunburn and clinic visit for a week. David, at home, never checked the answering machine. But they didn’t call and leave a message, until the day they took him to the clinic.

At the end of July, 2001, we went up to my mom’s for decoration day at the cemetery where Jason is now buried. It has always been a good day—a feast day—a family reunion. Everyone brings casseroles. It is hot and the kids all cool off in the creek, just like we did 40 years before. Jason decided to stay up at my mom’s for two weeks and we returned home. During that time Mom’s dog would not leave Jason’s foot alone—the foot where the primary tumor was. He was constantly bothering Jason that week, sniffing that foot. They didn’t tell me about it. Since then we have learned that dogs have been known to detect cancer. There are even scientific studies going on using dogs for detection of various cancers. If we had paid attention to Copper—the dog might have saved Jason’s life.

In the fall of 2001, Jason went on a school trip to Land Between the Lakes. He was always jumping off high places. On the trip he jumped from a concrete walkway down to a concrete plaza below ( a height of 20-25 feet). He came home limping, but he didn’t want me to take him to the doctor. I should have, but after a few weeks he was fine—or so we thought. It was during this summer/fall that he started taking off his shoes and massaging his foot. He would rub between his toes on his left foot and stretch out the little toe in the very area where later the tumor grew and where later they did radiation. He did this often and we all seem to remember that it was his left foot that he always rubbed. When we asked him why he did this, he said that his foot had cramps. Now we know that it was the tumor growing there. There was never a lump—these were our only warning signs.

So, after talking to Mom about this, it seems as though the tumor was probably there in the summer of 2001—eighteen months before he started showing the symptoms that sent us to the doctor. It still doesn’t tell me when it all started or when we could have “caught it in time” so that surgery-amputation of his foot or leg would have stopped it. When I told Jason that he was so perfect as a child near the end of his life here—he said, “Mom, I was never perfect. This cancer was always there waiting to grow.” For a while I thought that the terrible sunburn might have caused the tumor, but now I think that it must have already been there even before the sunburn. We will never know what caused this to happen to our dear, sweet Jason.

Always,I wanted to die instead of him and later I just wished I could die with him. Times I prayed that Jesus would come before he died, so we wouldn’t have to know this pain of separation. I guess I am past that now, though I still wish Jesus would come soon and we all could be together again. We are still here—always missing him. So, how am I doing? I still cry very easily. Jason is always on my mind. It has been four months since he left us and went to heaven. During that time, my mind has constantly dwelled, seemingly beyond my control, on the last painful week of his life, the two days of his coma, his question “Am I dying?” and those final dreadful moments. I couldn’t make myself not think about it. Now my mind is refusing to stay in that spot. It’s as if it is saying—"that is enough pain. You've tortured yourself enough." Sadly, with no other choice, I am coming to a place of acceptance. I tend to think now that Jason couldn’t have continued living the way things had become for him. He wouldn’t have wanted to live like that—so limited by a disease. I look at his pictures and he almost seems angelic in all of them, especially the last ones. I am thankful that he could enjoy his last summer. I am thankful for Katie. I am thankful that he wasn’t confined to a bed for weeks and weeks. I am thankful that it was only that one week when things were really bad. I am thankful that he is in heaven now where he is truly free from all pain and suffering. I am not hurting as much, but I will always miss my Jason. Just telling people that I have come to this place now brings tears to my eyes.
Thank you for your prayers for us.

God bless each of you.

In Christ,
David and Pam Archer

Saturday, December 24, 2005 4:02 AM CST

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for stopping by and for the kind messages that you have left in the guest book. We are finding that this season of the year is very hard for us without Jason. I always thought of him as our Christmas gift from God the year he was born in 1985 and now our gift, our Jason, is in heaven with God again. Thank you for praying for us. It means so much to us to know that you care and we so need those prayers. It is only with God’s help, by his grace, and with the sure hope that we will one day see Jason in heaven that we have made it through all that has happened.

I do also want to wish each of you a joyous holiday season—a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Cherish each moment. Life is so precious. God bless us everyone.

It has been a week since I last posted. I have been crying a lot as Christmas draws near and not journaling anywhere. This is how I am feeling:

I find myself dreading the coming of Christmas--wishing it wouldn't come--not wanting to move further away from Jason's life--not wanting the memories of him to fade. I find that I am changing and my mind resists going back to the painful place it has continually dwelled for the last 4 months--the place that always brings tears--those last days of his life, the pain, the coma, his words “Am I dying?” and the last moments just as he left us. Many times I have dry eyes all day long though thoughts of him are always with me and not having him here makes my world seem all wrong. Then I go to bed and cry because I can see that time is moving us away from him and I don't want to go. Soon a new year will begin—a whole brand new year--without Jason.

One day this week I figured how many days Jason lived on this earth. It was less than 7000 days. Not too many really. Even when a person lives a good long life of say 80 years, well that is only 28,000 days or so, which doesn’t seem like a whole lot. Time is most precious. How do we spend our days here? It’s like Jason asked about the famous man he and I read about in the encyclopedia (Jason was only 5 or 6 at the time). After reading about the things that the man had done, Jason asked, “But momma, did he know Jesus?” The encyclopedia didn’t say, of course. In the end though, and 200 years after the man had died—whether or not that man knew Jesus was the only thing that really mattered. Jason knew that when he was just a small child. He had wisdom and understanding far beyond his years.

I have been out shopping a few times this week. David e-mailed me one day and told me that there were 4 angels on the Salvation Army tree who needed someone to buy things for them so they would have presents. He asked me if I would want him to take one and I said yes. So Jenny and I went shopping to get things for a little girl. Jenny enjoyed shopping for a while, but was tired long before I thought we had gotten everything we needed to get, but it was a good thing to do and got my mind off things. I do like shopping—just not for myself.

Tonight, (Friday) Jenny wanted to have her friends over so they could exchange gifts, but only one of them could come. They had fun adding seasonings to popcorn they made. I enjoyed talking to Bethany’s mom when she came to pick her up. Saturday, Jenny will see her other friend when we deliver the hamster to her to take care of for the week.

At Jenny’s insistence, the tree is up and decorated and has been for over a week now. David bought some blue lights to go with the clear lights we had and it looks pretty—like the Christmas lights at our church. David put decorations at the front door and put lights up outside. I told him that I thought we were doing “good” get that much done. I just don’t “feel” festive. What I feel is tired. It doesn’t seem like Christmas to me this year. I didn’t get the nativity sets out or decorate the mantels and fireplaces. I didn’t send Christmas cards, but I have looked at them and thought about it a lot. I even took a picture of the kids to send in the cards, but haven’t gotten copies yet. It just doesn’t seem right that we could be sending a picture in cards at Christmas without Jason in the picture. Looking at the cards, and thinking about sending them didn’t get them addressed and in the mail box. I bought 3 new ornaments for the tree-a silver heart, a cross, and an angel, but they aren’t on the tree yet. One of our friends from east TN sent us a beautiful ornament in memory of Jason with his name and his dates engraved on the back and a beautiful verse on the front. Thank you, so much, Ann. I was very, very touched when I opened it. It brought tears to my eyes. It is lovely and special, and I think very fitting for Jason. I want to bring it to my mom’s when we go up there for Christmas and read the poem on Christmas day.

To see this poem and the ornament please visit the website: www.MerryChristmasFromHeaven.com . I would copy it here, but the author says that it may not be copied…sent over the internet, etc. without the author’s written permission, though some people have and it may be easier to read on another site:
http://www.gocollect.com/Catalog/product.aspx?id=119331&cat_id=5481 – They sell the ornament here also and list the poem without the copyright mentioned.
Here is a different, but also touching poem for us this Christmas.

"My First Christmas in Heaven" by Wanda Bencke

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below
With tiny lights, like Heaven's stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
Please wipe away your tears,
For I am spending Christmas with
Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can't compare
With the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
But, I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.

So, be happy for me, dear ones,
You know I hold you dear
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift
From my heavenly home above.
I sent you each a memory
Of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift
More precious than pure gold.
It was always more important
In the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other,
As my Father said to do
For I can't count the blessings or love
He has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and
Wipe away your tears.
Remember, I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

Story behind the poem: On Christmas day 1997, Lysandra Kay Bencke, a thirteen year old handicapped child had a seizure and was in a coma for five days before she died. During those five days her mother, Wanda Bencke, wrote the poem "Christmas in Heaven". She sent it out in belated Christmas cards to friends and relatives that year.

Both poems mention tears: either “wipe away your tears” in this second poem or “don’t shed a tear” in the first one. I’m not to the point where I can just choose not to shed tears. Tears just happen now—depending on my thoughts. I talked on the phone for a long time to my cousin’s wife Angie, and shed many tears tonight.

Friday, December 16, 2005 4:36 AM CST

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for stopping by and for the kind messages that you have left in the guest book. Thank you for praying for us. It means so much to us to know that you care and we so need those prayers. Thank you for remembering Jason with us on this special day. It is only with God’s help and with the sure hope that we will one day see Jason in heaven that we have made it through all that has happened.

I do also want to wish each of you a joyous holiday season—a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Cherish each moment. Life is so precious.

Another special day is here, Jason’s birthday. He would be 20 today. He was actually due on Christmas day, but was born 9 days early. He weighed 8 lbs 1 oz and was 21 ½ inches long. Our first son. What a joy it was to hold him in my arms. How I had longed for children. So many years and so many prayers – finally answered. I had held so many children in the nursery at church and wondered if I would ever be able to hold my own. Being his mother was pure joy for me.


Also, please say a prayer for us and if you like, please leave us a message here. We miss him so much. His birth certificate gives 6:21PM as the time of his birth, so that might be a good time for all of us to light a candle. God bless you all.

I light this candle

I light this candle in memory of you,
My life, my child, my heart,
May it shine bright and true,
As you did from the start.

In its flickering flame I see
The life we shared together,
The love and wonderful memories,
That I’ll carry with me forever.

I light this candle in memory of you,
I look up to the Heavens where you are,
I see the lights of Heaven shining bright too,
But your candle shines brighter than the brightest star

My child you are still so much a part of me,
Even though you are no longer here,
You live on in my heart where you will always be,
No matter what, I will always keep you there.

On this special night I light this candle for you,
And I hope every one who sees it will know,
How very special you are, how much you are loved and missed
And will remember you with me when they see its golden glow.

Judi Walker
In memory of her son Shane
& all the other children who
have left this earth

National Children’s Memorial Site
That their light may always shine.

You fell asleep without goodbye,
But memories of you will never die,
Gone are the days we used to share,
But in my heart you are always there.
Never more than a thought away,
Quietly remembered every day.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your many blessings. You have been so good to us. Thank you for our family and friends and how they have supported us through Jason's illness. Thank you for blessing us with Jason, for his life--for allowing us to be his parents, for allowing us to even know him. Thank you for each of the children you have given us. I've always felt so unworthy of such a blessing. It hurts so much to be without Jason now. Please be with us and comfort us as we grieve his loss and help us to remember that he is with You now, completely loved and happier that he his ever been. It is hard to imagine what heaven must be like. Thank you for the sure hope of eternal life we have in You. Thank you for sending Jesus.
In Christ,
Sunday, December 4, 2005
We went to the children’s Christmas musical at our church on Sunday night, Dec. 4th. It was called “From Our Herd to Your Herd-Merry Christmas.” Jenny had a small non-speaking part, which was just what she wanted. It was really good, lots of energy, and a gospel message. David still had a headache on Sunday, but he came Sunday night for the musical. Justin and Joshua didn’t come to the musical. The fifth graders stayed on stage the whole time. We sat with friends. It was White Christmas night, so everyone brought canned foods and other staples in white bags to be given away to needy families in the community. I didn’t have any of my big boys to help carry our bags of food down to the stage. They each used to carry a big bag down. Justin came to Sunday morning service and brought one of his friends though

It has turned very cold. A new season has really come and it is hard to imagine that the time has passed like this. It has been over 3 months since Jason left us. I think of how the seasons will come and go and, God willing, Jason’s brothers and sister will grow up and as one by one they each pass the age at which Jason died and his dad and I will grow old without him. That makes me extremely sad. My thoughts turn to my own little brother. I was 16 and he was 18 months younger than me when he died a month before his 15th birthday on July 2, 1972. How the time has gone by—it just goes. It has been so long since I last saw his sparkling blue eyes and freckled face as he walked, happy and whistling, across the bridge to go with our cousins on a short trip over the mountain. It has been over 34 years now, since I last saw him.

Monday, December 5, 2005
I learned that Justin would have a part in his school’s Christmas presentation, a pretty major part and I only learned this when he said that he had to be at the rehearsal tonight. The presentation will be on Thursday. I knew that the children’s Christmas presentation would be on Thursday, but didn’t realize that the high school singing groups and the high school drama class would all be participating in the presentation.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005
Joshua had to do lots of work to be ready for school at the tutorial on Wednesday and I had to go the grocery store late at night to get ingredients for a cheesy hash brown potato casserole that David needed for a Christmas party at work. When Jason worked at the hospital with his dad he loved to go to these holiday parties. After Jason was diagnosed, I used to go to the store really late all the time to pick things up for him. I liked to stay up just because he was up—even though he didn’t necessarily want me in his room or to even talk to me. If he wanted food I was up and could get him anything he wanted even if it meant going to one of the few restaurants that were open that late. I still stay up late—on the computer, but this was the first time I have been to Kroger’s that late since Jason left us. An older lady who only works the late shift was there. She knew about Jason, but I hadn’t seen her since before he died. She asked me, “How is your son?” So I had to tell her that he is gone now – that he died on his dad’s 50th birthday. Of course, she said that she was sorry—and I thanked her for asking. I tried hard, but my voice cracked and tears were came to my eyes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005
We drove down for the tutorial. There was lots of talk of wintry weather for Thursday and if it did should the Christmas play/musical be postponed or cancelled. It turned out that the really bad weather was 60 miles north of us. It was too warm for ice and snow here. We just got lots of rain all day on Thursday.

Thursday, December 8, 2005
In the morning I had my urology appointment about my kidney stones. I hadn’t seen this doctor since July, so this was someone else who had not heard the news about Jason—or perhaps he had since it was in the paper. It is always hard telling someone that he has died—to say the words. Usually I don’t have to, because almost everyone knows. I cried there.

Thursday afternoon, Joshua had an awards presentation for being on the bowling team. He decided to stay afterwards and help with set up for the reception after the Christmas presentation. I drove back home alone—45 minutes. Songs on the radio—even the ones Jason didn’t like to hear—make me think of him. This is a song (below) that plays on the Christian radio station. Jason didn’t like to listen to it. If you think about it from his perspective after he was told that his cancer would be terminal, it is a very sad song. It is a sad song for me now, too, because Jason’s life ended so soon and my life now isn’t everything I dreamed that it would be. In the happy life I imagined—my son would not have had cancer and die at age 19. I imagined growing old—my children marrying—grandchildren.

This Is Your Life Lyrics

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes

This is your life and today is all you’ve got now
And today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
This is your life
Are you who you want to be?
This is your life
Are you who you want to be?
This is your life
Is it everything you’ve dreamed that it would be
When the world was younger
and you had everything to lose?

yesterday is a kid in the corner
yesterday is dead and over

this is your life
are you who you want to be?
this is your life
are you who you want to be?
this is your life
is it everything you’ve dreamed that it would be
when the world was younger
and you had everything to lose?

don’t close your eyes
don’t close your eyes
don't close your eyes
don't close your eyes
this is your life are you who you want to be?
this is your life are you who you want to be?
this is your life are you who you want to be?
this is your life are you who you want to be?
this is your life is it everything you dreamed that it would be when the world was younger and you had everything to lose?

Thursday evening, Justin had to be there at 5:00 for rehearsal. He called me at 7PM and said, “Mom, where are you? Everyone is eating, and I don’t have any food.” I was at least 20 minutes away. I didn’t know that they were going to break for a snack for the play members. Joshua’s friend’s family shared food with Joshua, but Justin didn’t get anything. I was afraid that I had missed the reception and I had to bring food for that, but I hadn’t missed it. It was after the play. The play started at 7:30. There was music playing before the play started—George Winston’s “Carol of the Bells.” It is beautiful and—it will always remind me of Jason because David recorded that as background music on the video he made of Jason when Jason was only a month old. So it made me sad. When I first watched the video, the day that he made it in January 1986—I just sat and cried, thinking of how soon my little baby boy would grow up.

The school Christmas presentation was very good. Justin did great—he really does have a nice speaking voice.

At the reception, I saw the lady that I worked with that one day in the nursery. Her little girl was born the day that Jason died. So now she is almost 4 months old—so precious. The lady had seizures the day the baby was born—there were some serious problems for both mom and baby. The doctors say no more children for them—this was their third child. I talked to her for a while. She is doing well and the baby is growing and thriving. She said that it has been a year since her father died. Her dad had lived with them all their married life and she took care of him—so she was very close to him. It is only now – a full year later that she can talk about him without crying. Sometimes I can talk about Jason without crying—just not in much detail or for too long. There are just certain things that I can’t think about without crying—especially the last week of his life—the awful suffering, when he asked out of his coma, “Am I dying?” and most especially the last few moments just before he died.

Friday, December 9, 2005
I ordered a poinsettia to be placed at church in the sanctuary in his memory—she asked me “Only one?” I didn’t know how many would be right—if I ordered a thousand it wouldn’t be enough to show how much we miss him. I went to pay for them and changed it to two—one from David and me and the other from Justin, Joshua and Jenny.

Friday afternoon, I was just home, standing in the kitchen, thinking about the day Jason died and how awful it was—how he sat up suddenly and opened his eyes and we all moved closer, hoping he might say something—but it was terrible and his breathing changed and then he was gone—gone—and on this Friday, I cried while I peeled potatoes for the beef stew.

The dogs’ water and the rabbit’s water kept freezing. I changed it twice on Friday. It is supposed to be down to 19 degrees F Friday night. It was that cold a lot of nights last week.

Saturday, December 10, 2005
Justin took the ACT for the third time. He was supposed to be in by 10:00PM Friday, but he just had to go to a show with his friends Sosha and Josh. He didn’t get in until almost 11:00 and he had to be up by 7:00 and at the test site by 8:00. He couldn’t find his driver’s license and has to have I.D. for the test—well he can use his school annual. But he shouldn’t have been out driving without his license. He says he thinks it is at Josh’s house. Jason never lost his license.

Saturday night, we saw a new movie. In the end one of the most handsome boys –one of the good guys was murdered by the evil villain. The words spoken at the end about him apply to Jason - a true friend, brave, faithful, loyal to the very end. Jason would have wanted to see this movie as well as Narnia that started tonight.

When we got home an old rerun of Tool Time was on as I went around the stations. I heard the word cancer—I had never seen this episode. Apparently they thought the middle son had cancer. It was a very sentimental episode as they showed video clips of him growing up: as a little baby, a toddler, all different ages. The mother is holding him as a newborn in one scene and the father is walking in the yard with him as a tiny baby in another. As they are waiting for the news of test results from the doctor, they play scrabble. Finally they receive the call and it is not cancer. It is hyperthyroidism—not cancer. How I wish---it hadn’t been cancer for Jason. Of course, I cried…

Sunday, December 11, 2005
David and Jenny went on to Sunday school, but Josh didn’t get dressed in time, so I waited for him. We just went to the worship service. Joshua wore his new dress coat and pants and looked very nice. Justin slept in. His friend Chris spent the night and they wouldn’t get up for church.

Monday, December 12, 2005
A large group from their school went to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We met around 7PM. I read the whole series, The Chronicles of Narnia, to my children when they were small. Jason really liked C.S. Lewis and read and re-read these books. He would have loved the movie. At the end of the movie, Lucy has a liquid that can restore anyone’s health no matter how sick they are. As her brother is dying, she places a drop of it on his tongue and he is well again. How I wish we had something like that for Jason and for all the kids with cancer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
One of Joshua classmates called and encouraged him to go to the co-op Christmas party at the skate rink for 1 to 3 pm. She said that even though it was for the younger kids, some of the older ones were coming. We went, but were a little late. The kids had fun and the time flew. Jenny invited a friend and her family to come home with us and they did. It was nice having company. We forgot all about Jenny’s piano lesson at 4:00.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Church tonight. Joshua wanted to go to New Hope Baptist, where he goes to school. He really likes the smaller youth group there. I met David half-way, and he took Joshua on and even stayed late so Joshua could go bowling with the group. I took Jenny to our church. I went to the church library, to meet a friend. I talked with her for a while. Then I sat and finished reading A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.

Thursday, December 15, 2005
David went to a hockey game tonight. I took the children out to eat. After that we went to Wal-mart to look at cell phones. The boys want to upgrade—for Christmas and our contract has expired so they can. Jenny was trying to find gifts for her friends.

Friday, December 16, 2005
Today would be Jason’s twentieth birthday. David has taken the day off work He says we are all going to Opryland Hotel to walk around and take pictures of the kids there. It is beautiful there—the decorations are so elaborate. Then he wants to take us all out to eat. Justin is working until 3PM. I know that David is just wanting to get me out of the house. I want to send some helium balloons up for Jason as we stand around his trampoline, light a candle in his memory, remember him and cry….. I couldn’t bear to sing Happy Birthday or to eat a piece of cake.

God bless each of you.

In Christ,
David and Pam Archer

Thursday, December 8, 2005 1:55 AM CST

Jason's birthday is almost here. December 16th would have been his 20th birthday. I'm not sure what we will do for his birthday in his memory, because I think some of his friends won't be home from college by that day. What I wish that we could do is invite friends over and have pizza and cake within a few days of his birthday. Where ever you are though, it might be nice if we all could do this:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~LIGHT A CANDLE IN HIS MEMORY ON HIS BIRTHDAY~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Also, please say a prayer for us and if you like, please leave us a message here. We miss him so much. His birth certificate gives 6:21PM as the time of his birth, so that might be a good time for all of us to light a candle. God bless you all.
You fell asleep without goodbye,
But memories of you will never die,
Gone are the days we used to share,
But in my heart you are always there.
Never more than a thought away,
Quietly remembered every day.


Hi Everyone,
Thanks so much for stopping by and remembering Jason with me. After such an emotional week--Thanksgiving week, I felt just so drained—and tired. It is only 9 days until Jason's birthday now and with the change in the weather--well winter is really here. How can another season come with Jason gone? How can his birthday and Christmas come without him to celebrate them? I don't think my words can really express the pain I/we feel...

Katie left this message with a prayer request in the Guest book so I am putting it here so that more can see it:

Thank you all for your continued prayers. They mean so much to me, especially with the holidays coming up. I just wanted to request, if it’s not too much to ask of you, to pray for another little girl. My friend from school Amy, who met Jason only the couple of times he came to visit me, told me of a prayer request she had, and I wanted to pass it along to people I know are committed to their prayer time. Amy's little sister, Emily, has a friend who just passed away after struggling w/ a brain tumor for 5 years. The young girl was only 12 years old at the time of her death. I know how difficult this will be for all involved and my heart goes out to all of them. I just hope that you will pray for them as you have prayed for me over the past year and a half.
Thank you all for your presence in my life.
With Love and God Bless,

On Kevin Martin’s site Linda also has a prayer request: “Today I ask for prayers for a local family whose son took his life on Sunday. He was a student of my friend Helenmary at Hendersonville High. How sad and tragic, especially at this time of the year.”
Someone suggested to me that I start any writing about Jason with a prayer. I really am constantly praying that God would help me/all of us to live through this and to comfort us and to be with us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for loving me and sending Jesus to die for my sins. Thank you for your goodness to me. I never deserved the least of your mercies and yet you have blessed in so many ways. Thank you for blessing us with four wonderful children. Thank you for each one of them. Thank you for Jason, for his life--for allowing us to be his parents, for allowing us to even know him. Please be with me and comfort me in my grieving. It is so hard to be without him. I miss him and it hurts. Please comfort and give peace. I need you, Lord. We prayed for so many years for You to bless us with children, and You gave us Jason, and now he is gone from our sight. Help me to take comfort in the hope of heaven and that one day I will see Jason again and that he is happy and healthy and there with you right now. Please be with each of those who love him and comfort them each day and especially as Jason’s birthday and Christmas are coming.

Last week was a hectic week, especially as we got closer to Friday. The school where Jason used to go and where Josh and Justin still go had their annual formal on December 2--a dinner and dance on Friday night. The theme this year was "An evening in Paris.” For the past few Thursday nights Joshua had been attending dance lessons with some other students to get ready for the formal. He had learned to waltz really well. This week we had to rent a tux for Justin, and we bought a black suit for Joshua. They both looked so nice. Joshua looked so grown up. I hope that he will wear the suit to church sometimes. After dinner Justin and his date didn't stay long for the dance--they went to hear some bands downtown. I wish they had stayed, but his date isn't from their school, so she possibly felt out of place. Joshua had a wonderful time all evening and I think that he must have danced with every girl in his class. Jason's good friends Steven and Josh W. attended the dance even though they have graduated and Julie was there.

I thought about 2 years ago when we bought a new black suit for Jason to wear to the formal. We thought he could use the suit for college functions and job interviews--never dreaming that he would be buried in the suit less than 2 years later. It was just 2 months before he was diagnosed with cancer--February 6, 2004. That year he took Julie to the formal and they had their picture taken together. The photography teacher at the school took the picture. It was a nice picture, but looking back at it now—well he looked so pale. We didn’t know that he was sick even at that time. That night he did one of his crazy stunts and jumped off a balcony to retrieve something that was dropped and scratched his hand pretty bad and made it bleed when he landed in a bush. Thinking about this, I felt really sad, but didn't cry so much--just once, in the kitchen.

Today, Joshua went to a friend's house and in the end decided to spend the night. I took him up to the friend's--way out in the country and on the way home I decided to just drive and explore some country roads, even though it was a dreary rainy day. When the kids were smaller and gas was cheaper I used to do this more--just learning new roads, new places, sight-seeing. As I drove, today, I thought of when we first moved down here, away from all our family, and how I went out driving those first days--clear to Kentucky--looking for a good place to let the kids go wading in the creek. It was so hot here that summer (much hotter than East Tennessee), and back in East TN on very hot days, the best place to be was wading in a cold creek. Since we moved, I’ve never found a good creek for wading nearby—not in all these years. All of the creeks I’ve found looked too close to the road so that they probably had broken glass, or else they just didn't look clean enough--not like those cold, clear mountain streams back home.

Today, as I was driving I thought about the roads that Jason will never be able to travel again--not the old roads we knew--nor any new roads. In the car he always sat beside me. Now sometimes I just try to imagine him there and it brings tears to my eyes, because my feeble attempts to imagine him with me are so inadequate a comfort. What I really want is him back, healthy and that isn’t going to happen. Driving along--slightly lost--not knowing exactly where I was, but always knowing I could go back the way I came and occasionally seeing signs directing me to the interstate, I wept. I finally turned back and got on a road that I knew and made my way home. When I got home David said that Jenny had already been picked up to go to her friend's house to spend the night.

David had a terrible headache all weekend. His head hurt so much that it made him nauseous. A change in the weather, increase or decrease in barometric pressure combined with his terrible allergies that block his sinuses are what usually cause his headaches. He felt terrible all day Saturday. I told him about my drive and about my thoughts of Jason. Do you remember when the motorcycle riders came and prayed for Jason last fall? They told us not to speak any more words about death around Jason--that he had had too many words of death spoken around him. I'm not sure if that was before or after he quit chemo. Anyway, I felt bound by that--not to speak about death--even though the cancer returned and progressed. We just kept praying for God to heal Jason here on earth. It was always hard for me to talk about death with him--even as a possibility, but as time went on it became even harder. Now I sincerely regret not talking to him about it. It is one thing I would change if I could. He felt more freedom to talk to Katie, his girlfriend, about death than to me or his dad and he talked to me about it more than with his dad. I think it made him feel more alone--not being able to talk to those he loved about this.

I continue to wish that we had asked him his wishes concerning the arrangements. Even much younger children than Jason have been allowed to express their opinions in regards to their own funeral arrangements. I said all this to David as I was crying, on Saturday, and his response was, "Do you want me to make an appointment with a counselor for you?" I guess he thinks that I shouldn’t be bringing up the same issues over and over again. Anyway, that really hurt my feelings, since I think that all I am feeling is normal. After all Jason has only been gone for 3 months now and the holiday and his birthday are here. I really don't think that I can talk to a counselor—I just become too emotional when I talk about what happened to Jason. David suggesting a counselor makes me feel as though I can’t talk to him about this anymore. Maybe it was just because of his headache....

I asked Jason once if his left foot had ever hurt or caused him any problems. You know, it was in his left foot where the cancer that took his life started. He said that it never hurt, but that he had cramps in his feet--that was all. Just going on appearances--there was no difference between the foot with cancer and the other one. At my parents house Thanksgiving week, my mom reminded me of how Jason used to keep his shoes off and how he would rub and massage his left foot. And it does seem to me right now as though it was his left foot that he rubbed most--So there I go wishing that somehow--with mother's intuition or something--that I taken him to the doctor and had it checked out--insisted on tests--that might have made a difference and saved his life. But we had no idea anything was wrong (there was no lump) until his bone marrow was eaten up with cancer and he was pale and tired with shortness of breath and pain in his sternum. I am his mother--why couldn't I have done something? I feel as though I failed him and I just miss him so much.....and wishing that I could have done something can't bring Jason back to us.
God bless you and your loved ones this holiday season. Hug your children everyday and let each one in your family know without any doubts that you love them unconditionally. Life truly is very fragile and far too short to concentrate on unimportant things.

Thursday, December 1, 2005 10:40 AM CST

Hi Everyone,
I hope that you had a wonderful thanksgiving. We made our annual trip to our parent's houses for Thanksgiving as we will do again at Christmas. It is a 300 mile trip east to the mountains in upper East TN. It was a bittersweet time for us. I still have clothes to wash and dishwasher to load and I need to help the kids with schoolwork. Justin, Jenny and I share one computer. When the computer is free and I have a bit more time I will tell you more about our trip.
Thank you so much for visiting and leaving messages. Thank you for praying for us. God saw us through this first Thanksgiving without our Jason. I know your prayers helped. Time just can't be stopped and it keeps moving us farther away from the last time we talked to Jason. In looking at it another way, I guess we are moving closer to a time we will be with him again in heaven. We miss him so much.

We are back from our trip to East Tennessee. It was a hard trip this time, but one we will make as long as we live down here and our parents live up there. Joshua, Jenny and I went up on Sunday night before Thanksgiving and David and Justin drove up on Wednesday. I found a really old bed and a settee for my mom at a yard sale a few weeks ago and I needed to get it to her. The bed is shorter than most beds and had ropes underneath instead of slats. The old mattress for it was made in 1956 special for the short bed. I also took up all of my photo albums from the time Jason was born for family to see, but I had to bring them back with me. With everything in the car, there wouldn’t have been room for our whole family.

The last time we went to East TN was for Jason’s funeral and so this is the first trip without him. It is a trip with 300 miles of memories multiplied many times by many trips in the nine years since we moved away from David’s hometown which was only 30 minutes from my parents. The sadness of our loss of Jason is with me constantly. I guess it is just part of me now. His absence is so painful for me. The front passenger seat was always his by right as first born. When Jason was in the car that was his seat and there are black marks on the dash from when Jason wore black boots that remind me of him now. I could always reach over and pat Jason’s long slender arm and hand as he was sick and we made those many trips to the hospital and look over at his dear face as we traveled. I loved for him to be there beside me. Josh sat beside me on this trip—not my Jason.

I didn’t cry until we reached a spot near Center Hill Dam on I-40 that I will always remember—we had a flat tire there on the interstate several years ago on a hot sunny day. It was just the children and I. No one would stop to help us. I guess the boys looked big enough to change the tire. Right now I’m not sure how old they were, but Jason must have been between 14 and 15—very tall and skinny. I don’t remember why David couldn’t come, but we were going to visit Granny—Jason, Justin, Josh, Jenny and I. We may have been taking Granny to Cades Cove in the Smokey Mtns. None of us even knew how to get the tire out of our Plymouth Voyager and we had to get the instruction manual to learn how to change the tire. Jason took over, read the manual and changed the tire. It took a him a long time and even though he was strong, the lug bolts were very tight—probably machine tightened and it was very hard for Jason to get them loose. He worried the whole way to granny’s about whether he had tightened the bolts enough, but we made it there with no other problems. The whole episode really showed me how mature he had become, how grownup and responsible and able to do difficult tasks. When we got to Granny's I paid him $20 even though he didn't expect it. After I remembered him changing the tire there, I cried off and on the whole trip, remembering different things along the way—the trip to Burgess Falls, just off the interstate the summer before he got sick and the kids wading in the river there in a safe spot above the falls. We also walked to the foot of the falls. Later we roasted hotdogs and had smores at the picnic area. We had so much fun that day. We went on many trips to Fall Creek Falls. The last time was mostly for swimming. Jason climbed all the way to the top of the big hill above the swimming hole—so full of life and energy. We used to stop at the Factory Outlet stores and look for jeans and shirts for the boys when they were small. We usually stopped at Rockwood for gas and to eat because it is halfway and ate at McDonald’s and Jason usually had McNuggets. That was before chemotherapy. Jason’s last meal before the first chemotherapy was McNuggets and he threw them all up. He couldn’t stand McDonald’s after that so we had to go to Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy’s, Subway or Krystal after Jason was on chemo. The Rockwood area holds even more memories for me because I was born near there in Harriman and my dad, an ironworker-welder with TVA, helped build Melton Hill Dam and Kingston Steam Plant. On this trip we didn’t stop at Rockwood. We drove on to the Strawberry Plains exit past Knoxville and got gas and ate there at Krystal’s. For me, it was an attempt to try to do something different so I wouldn’t hurt so much. But then I remembered recently stopping there to eat with our whole family. All through Knoxville I listened to the Delilah show on the radio. People call in and tell her their stories and she plays a pretty sentimental song that is appropriate. I remember listening to her show as I drove through Knoxville, when Jason and Katie and his friends were at the beach early in the summer. I wanted to call in a request for a song for them at the time even though they wouldn’t hear it, but driving in the dark, it was too difficult to dial the number and I would probably have never gotten through. I wanted to call and tell her Jason’s story on Sunday night as we drove up for Thanksgiving, but the number to call was never stated. The thought of telling someone about Jason and our heartbreak, made me cry—just thinking of how I could ever put what we have been through into a few words without sobbing. Josh and Jenny were watching a movie and had headphones on so they didn’t hear me crying and I drove miles and miles in the dark, relatively alone.

I was very tired when we got to my mom’s and went on to sleep. It was already late. I woke up with red puffy eyes on Monday morning, which I have never done. I think that I must have cried—for Jason in my sleep. Oh, how I miss him. On Monday, my mom and I went down to the monument place – to look at the gravestones they have on display and talk about ordering one for Jason. That was quite emotional for me. David and I actually ordered the stone on Friday. It will be beautiful—a highly polished black stone, with a beach scene—a lovely sunset with a young man looking out to sea etched into the stone and then colors added. Jason loved going to the beach. As a family we had several beach vacations and they were Jason's favorite vacations. His stone will have his name and the dates of his life and the words “Loved and missed by all who knew him.” A vase will be attached on the base and will have the words “Beloved son” a ceramic picture of Jason and the reference for the scripture that somehow explained to him his imminent early death “Isaiah 57:1-2.” It won’t be placed on his grave until February because weather gets bad this time of year in the mountains. It even snowed one night while we were there—and the ground was white, but soon melted. In the higher elevations, I am sure that the roads were bad for a while and I would not have risked going over the mountain to Jason’s grave at that time.

Last Tuesday night, I dreamed about Jason for the first time, but it wasn’t such a good dream. I dreamed that he somehow woke up after he went into the coma, but he, of course, wasn’t well. A huge lump had grown on his neck as he lay in unconscious and it looked so bad and so painful for him. It was a sad dream. You know that I prayed that he wouldn’t have cancerous lumps appear and grow on his beautiful head and face. I was praying that his face wouldn’t be deformed by cancer. For Jason, as a young man, he wouldn’t have wanted anyone to see him like that.

We have gone to my mom’s every Thanksgiving since we moved away. When we lived up there, we went to Thanksgiving at their house and they came to our house for Christmas. For his entire life Jason went to Granny’s for Thanksgiving dinner. This year we talked, worked together getting the meal ready and cleaning up, prayed and ate—all that we usually do, but our precious Jason wasn’t there with us. He always enjoyed these “feasts”, even as a small child—whether it was Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners or Decoration Days when everyone brought food. This year I didn’t make his favorite orange jell-o salad that I had always make. It is one of my dad’s favorites, also. It has orange jell-o with drained mandarin oranges, crushed pineapples, marshmallows, and cool whip, but not the coconut the original recipe called for because my kids didn’t like coconut. Instead, this year I made a large fresh fruit salad with grapes, pineapple, strawberries, kiwis, and a can of mandarin oranges. Jason would have liked it, too. I did have out the veggie tray, full of broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms and carrots. Jason’s favorites were mushrooms and carrots. Not many of the veggies were eaten this year without Jason. Mom, Dad, our family, mom’s twin sister and her daughter’s family of 4, and mom’s oldest sister all came—13 people in all. My aunt Florence debated coming, because Jason wouldn’t be there, but she came. After we ate the boys played video games, and Jason’s absence was so noticeable, his laughter, his voice, that smile.

Looking through the years of pictures in the photo albums brought tears to any who could bear to look and remember my little boy growing up. How precious and sweet he was. So tears were a part of our Thanksgiving this year. So many precious memories—we should have been able to look at them years from now with Jason and his wife and children, but that will never be.

One morning while we were there, we read in the obituaries that my dad’s first cousin D.W. Conley(he always went by his initials) had passed away. This cousin was one of only a few who regularly visited Dad after his heart attack and stroke 6 years ago. He came every month or two and really brightened Dad’s life, as my dad could no longer drive and get out and visit. He was a good man. D.W. suffered from C.O.P.D. – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 82 years old (same as my dad) and had suffered with this disease for many years--not able to breath well. Nothing could be done to stop the progress of his lung disease. He often had to stop and sit on the porch to catch his breath before he could make it into the house. Finally he was on oxygen at home. D.W. and his wife Gerri hadn’t visited my parents since July. Dad talked about going to the visitation, but then made a lot of excuses as to why he couldn’t go. Mom and I went and saw a lot of Dad’s first cousins—D.W.’s brothers and sisters and their children and his daughter’s family. D.W. had gotten really sick and had to be put in the hospital early in Sept. Jill, their only child, kept her mother at her house during the month he was hospitalized and as soon as he was discharged she loaded up her dad and took him home with her 5 hours away. D.W. and Gerri had gotten to the point that they couldn’t take care of themselves anymore. He was confused and fell at one point and had to be rehospitalized and just went down from there. Part of the time one of his teenage granddaughters gave up her bedroom for him and he stayed in her bedroom and was on hospice, but her mother knew that she would never sleep in her room again if he died there. When it became obvious that he would be gone soon, he was taken to the hospital. I had never met Jill before, though she is just 3 years younger than me. She is researching family genealogy, as I have done at one point. Part of D.W.’s obituary mentioned that he was preceded in death by a great granddaughter and it gave her name. My mother knew that the baby was due around July. So it was also an announcement to us of the baby’s death. We learned that she died at the age of 2 ½ months, probably in Sept. D.W. did get to see and hold her. She was a beautiful baby girl, first child of her young mother, who is about 6 months older than Jason. She died 3 days after receiving her vaccination and an autopsy was done and SIDS was given as the cause. My cousin’s family has suffered at least two major losses very recently. She seemed to be doing okay—but I know that it has been hard. Her mother will be living with them now.
On the Saturday that my dad's first cousin was buried we had noticed in the newspaper (Friday's) that a good friend of ours from our old church had also passed away and the visitation for him was Saturday afternoon. Nick died on thanksgiving day after a long battle with multiple myeloma. He had been in the V.A. hospital for a while. Nick was one of the most up-beat happy people in the world. He lived to be a witness for the Lord, even had his own what he called "witnessing cards" made up to hand out and was always passing out New Testaments. Whenever you asked him how he was doing he would say either "If I was doing any better I couldn't stand it," or "Saved! How are you?" What a testimony he had!

David and I went to Nick's visitation and saw his three daughters. We used to go to church with one of them, so several from our old church were there and, expressed their condolences to us on the loss of Jason. The tears come so easily even when I try not to let them--but not in huge sobs--just my eyes fill up and tears flow down my cheeks.

My dad's cousin and Nick were both 82 years old--the same age as my dad. They had lived good long lives. None of us live forever you know and 82 is a pretty long life. It is when young people like Jason or a tiny baby die so young that it seems so much harder. If we had our way we would never say good-bye to the ones we love.

I didn't get to go for my longed for walk in the woods to cry for Jason. Though I was in the woods, I was rushed, since David was waiting for me at his mom's to go to Nick's visitation. I only got to go for a quick walk to help find fungi for Josh's biology class experiment. I even forgot my orange vest and with the possibility of deer hunters in the woods, that was a bit dangerous. Mom came too and she also forgot her orange vest. If I had known that the boys - Justin and Josh - were going to stay at my mom's and ride the four-wheeler- I would have let them collect the fungi and left sooner, but would have missed walking in the woods altogether. Saturday was the only really nice day all week as it was much warmer, winds were calm, and it didn't rain.

After we went to the funeral home on Saturday, David, Jenny and I went to see David's great aunt Flo. She is in a nursing home now. This was the first time we have visited her there. She has a very nice place, with a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom. At 94, she is almost completely blind and must use a walker. She misses her assisted living apartment, but she really needed more help. She has always been the neatest lady. Jenny was so good while we visited her. Aunt Flo said that she doesn't understand why the good Lord has left her here where she feels so useless and yet took a young man so full of potential and life--our Jason. David said, "Flo, I guess heaven isn't ready for you yet." I said, "Jesus must still be working on your mansion." She said, "It must be quite a mansion if it has taken him 94 years to build it." It was a nice visit. Afterwards we went out to eat with David and his parents. On the way to my mom's home I stopped to pick up some red roses--I finally found fresh roses at Walmart and they were 1/2 price at $4.94. I had bought 4 artificial roses in case I couln't find real ones. I wanted to go visit Jason's grave for the first time since his funeral.

Sunday morning dawned. It was overcast and looked as though it could start raining at any time. The wind was blowing so hard. At mom's, when the wind blows that hard it really does howl and screech. Mom, Jenny and I drove over the mountain and up to the cemetery at 10:00AM. I wanted to sprinkle the petals of at least one rose over the grave, but the wind was blowing so hard that it just blew the petals away. I wrapped the artificial roses around the little metal marker and stuck the ends into the ground. Then I laid the real roses under the marker. The weather was so bad that we didn't get to stay long and then I had to leave him again. I wish that we could have stayed longer. His grave has only dead sod on it while all the others have green grass growing on them. The thought occured to me--Will I still miss you as much, my dear son, when the grass grows green on your grave? And I know that I will always miss him. To think of him--my mourning is more than tears in my eyes--an emotion of sadness courses through my veins--I have such a longing to see him again. Though some may say they feel the presence of a loved one after they are gone--I haven't felt that--just an emptiness--a sadness beyond words. It is hard to explain.

After we left the cemetery, I had to go back to Mom's and try to get Justin and Josh up--it was hard to wake them. We had to leave for David's mom's and a spaghetti lunch at 1:00 and then drive home. When we got home, David saw on the news that a 16 year old from our town had died -- he was car surfing. We didn't know the boy--but some of Justin's friends knew him and they are taking it pretty hard. I don't think that Justin knew him.


A prayer
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your many blessings. You have been so good to us. Thank you for our family and friends and how they have supported us through Jason's illness. Thank you for blessing us with Jason, for his life--for allowing us to be his parents, for allowing us to even know him. Thank you for each of the children you have given us. I've always felt so unworthy of such a blessing. It hurts so much to be without Jason now. Please be with us and comfort us as we grieve his loss and help us to remember that he is with You now, completely loved and happier that he his ever been. It is hard to imagine what heaven must be like. Thank you for the sure hope of eternal life we have in You. Thank you for sending Jesus.
In Christ,

I did want to let you know how the other families are doing. Please do visit their websites (listed below) and pray for them. Kevin is still having some good days. He tries so hard. Sometimes they call him the "Hulk". He really is incredible in his efforts to keep on doing things and making memories with his family despite the ravages of this cancer and with all the stress, his sweet wife, Linda, is totally amazing (I know she is tired-she keeps trying to stay cheerful). Some of the children put a sports theme Christmas tree in his bedroom. He wanted to go to church on Sunday, but that would have been too much--going from room to room is hard enough, so his dad who is visiting, stayed with him and everyone else went to church. Pray for good days, good memories. It is so hard when you know that the doctors say terminal. How we wish a miracle would occur and the cancer would all just go away and Kevin's health be restored.

Richie's family has been gone. They were able to make a special trip to Disney World in FL over Thanksgiving. The kids missed 3 days of school and his dad wondered if it was for the best, but decided that it was good for them considering the uncertainty of the future. Richie is becoming more tired and he slept more as the week progressed. He will soon begin another 28 day round of chemo and after that more scans will be done to see what the tumor is doing. Pray that the tumor shrinks and he becomes cancer-free again.

I am sad to report though that little Sriya, with her beautiful brown eyes and sweet little face, died on November 22 at 2:45PM. She was in her mother's arms when she breathed her last breath and then just slipped away peacefully after having suffered so much. Pray for peace and comfort for them. Thankful they have family nearby and that helps. I know they are in shock right now. It can hardly seem real that someone you love so very much could just be gone like that.

For me, even now—3 months later, it seems so unreal even after all that had happened that Jason's life ended--just like that--and he was gone--no more of his smiles, no more of his laughs, no more conversations with him, reduced visits from his friends. They were so dedicated to keeping him company and now things are just so different without him. I know that when his life here ended that he began his life in heaven—but for us, for now—he is not here. I am still playing some of his music. He liked such a variety of music. Some of the music he played was classical and I have been playing a classical piece with a violin and a piano. I will try to get on here sometime soon and tell you about our trip.

Thank you for your prayers.

In Christ,
David and Pam

Monday, November 14, 2005 10:04 AM CST

Oh, thank you all so so much. Thank you for all the posts. I am totally amazed. I can never tell you how much it means to me/to us that you still stop by and think of us, pray for us and that you remember Jason. God bless you all. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful. Even last year we thought some who were there for Thanksgiving might not be with us this year. You just never know, so truly enjoy and give thanks for your family and friends. I will try to post a longer journal entry before we go over the river and through the woods........ you know Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's and visiting with Mimi and other relatives. I want to go for a walk in the woods at my mom's house and have a good cry--remembering the happy times we had.

Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you all for stopping by here and leaving messages. When those we love die, well, we do just have to trust that their job on earth is finished--but it sure is hard to understand--especially when it is a child or a young person. One thing is for sure--our pastor says--the odds for dying are 1 out of 1. It is something we all have to face, so we need to be ready for it. I'm so glad that Jason was a Christian--that he was at peace with God and could say "I will just be in heaven a few years before you, Mom." I would have given anything though if I could have taken his place and died instead of him--just so he could live his life. Nineteen years is so short a time and then to have to suffer the way he did with cancer, chemo, radiation--for 2 years--it was so hard, so hard to watch and not really be able to do anything to stop the cancer. We prayed and prayed--but all along we knew that Jason's life was in God's hands, which is true for every single one of us. Our lives are in God’s hands. To those of you who followed Jason's journey--thank you once again for coming along side us and feeling our pain and praying with us--for us and for my dear son. I know that you hurt for us. How can I ever thank you enough for living through this with us?

My pastor, Brother Glenn and his daughter Amy who gave him her kidney are still recovering. He is having some swelling now in relation to the transplant, so we pray that this clears up soon. His son-in-law, Brady, Amy's husband, was our guest speaker at church today. He was youth minister at our church before Jason got sick. Now he is senior pastor at a thriving church in a college town about an hour's drive away. Jason had hoped to someday visit that church and hear Brady speak. He is the one we asked to speak at Jason's funeral and memorial service. Out of all the many people he could have spoken to today--when he exited the pulpit--he took the time to wait for us to come down the steps, so that he could speak to us and ask us how we are doing. That meant a lot to me today. Our whole family--all 5 of us now--no longer 6--was there. Justin was sitting with us, because his usual Sunday school class didn't meet today--I think there was a high school retreat this weekend. It was good just to be together at church--oh how I miss Jason........

I know that there are only a few who still stop by here. At least I think that it is only a few as not many leave messages. I just wanted to ask those of you who do stop to please be in prayer for the two people I have mentioned before. Their websites are listed below. Both Kevin and Sriya are in very critical condition right now. Kevin, 39 year old father of 5 (youngest daughter is only 3) has gone down so quickly this week. His wife posted a beautiful tribute of her love to him this week with a wedding picture from way back then. They have asked for people not to call--keep the phones quiet. Kevin's parents are on their way and they all just want to spend these last few days/hours together. Little 3 year old Sriya--sweet little thing--doesn't really understand what is happening to her--you know, just a week or so ago she started asking when the large lumps on her head will go away. The tumor on her hip/leg has grown so rapidly, the hospice nurses are shocked and have told the parents this past week that she probably has less than 2 weeks. She can't breathe well when she is lying down, so the parents (and only the parents will do-Sriya won't even let her grandparents hold her) are having to hold her 24 hours a day. And just this weekend the mother fell down some steps and hurt herself badly enough that she can't hold and carry the little girl around so her daddy has to hold her all the time.

How am I doing this week? Well, it seems as though the tears have come less, but they are still right there if I just sit and consider living life without Jason. Joshua had his birthday party Friday night/Saturday--he turned 15 on November 5. So here's another family birthday party without Jason. Joshua wanted armbands at an Activity Center in town so he and his 3 friends could do the bumper cars, laser tag and such, which occupied them for a few hours. We had pizza at home before they left and cake at home when they returned. The 3 boys spent the night. They stayed up all night playing video games so they slept late on Saturday. I made them bacon, eggs, gravy and biscuits, but honestly it was after 12 when they ate. David bought Joshua a 4-wheeler that had to be put together--it will be kept at his friend, Bobby's house, because they actually have a place to ride it-44 acres in the country. Saturday, kind of late afternoon, David took Josh and friends up to Bobby's where he checked out his new 4-wheeler (not working properly yet-carburetor needs adjusting) and played paintball. Jenny went to see Chicken Little with one of her friends. I was home alone without my van since David needed it to transport those big boys. I finished planting the first pansies I bought. To think--spring will come again--and flowers will bloom--seasons will change and time will go on--all without my Jason here.

My mom's birthday was Saturday. I was bad--I didn't call--the day got away and I just didn't call. She called Sunday night. She was worried that I might be sick or something. I really had tried to call this week one time, but my brother keeps Mom's phone busy most of the time. It is difficult to reach her sometimes. I hadn't realized that Thanksgiving is so soon. It is only a week and a half away. I am telling you--it is going to be so sad to even be going up to my mom's house--300 miles without Jason--to eat a Thanksgiving meal without him. He was with us last year at this time--still on chemo--he was bald at Thanksgiving, but still seemed happy. I cried while I was on the phone with Mom. She talked about walking on those paths through the wood where the kids used to walk--the little creek where they played in the summer--the tree Jason chopped with an ax, but not all the way through so that it is still there, the rock my strong boy moved out of the field and I remember those happy days. These are not happy days in my life. I always hated a song with the words or title-"Love hurts"--I thought that it wasn't true--but when someone you love dies--well love hurts-- It just does and still you wouldn't change a thing about the love you had except if we had known that Jason would leave us so soon--we would have done more--made more memories--given more--traveled more--spent more time doing what he wanted ...spent more time together--David would have made that train set for him ...... You just don't know when someone you love will be gone -- we have no guarantees -- so take the time -- make the memories -- take pictures -- videotape -- whatever.... Just don't waste time worrying about little insignificant things. Think of what is really important. People are important. David said that someone in our Sunday school class told him this week that what happened to Jason has changed everyone's attitude who knows us,--especially people in our Sunday school class. Daddies are taking the time to build their little girls the playhouses they dreamed of and little boys are getting elaborate tree houses that the dads always meant to build. People are realizing that they need to spend more time together as a family. Time is a most precious commodity--and we spend it everyday--often carelessly without realizing it.

I know that our lives weren't all walks in the park the way I'd dreamed motherhood would be. It wasn't all fun. There were lots of dirty diapers, and sometimes the kids were sick. There were lots of clothes to wash and tummies to keep full. Sometimes things were hard--but on the whole--we were happy. God had finally given me children and I found that verse-may have mentioned it earlier--"God has made the barren woman to be a joyful mother of children." That was my desire--my dream--what I had always wanted and prayed for. I love being Mom to Jason, Justin, Joshua and Jenny.I didn't fuss about them getting clothes dirty, because that's what little boys (and girls) are supposed to do. I can remember just trying to get my three little boys to go to sleep in their red bunk bed-full mattress on the bottom and twin on top. Jason slept on the top bunk. They were so full of giggles and energy it was hard to get them to settle down and every night at bedtime I read them a Bible story. I never remembered having that much fun when I was little and it was so wonderful having a houseful of laughing children. I wish I could have those days back again.........


Love in Christ,
David and Pam

P.S. If you actually read down this far -- I have come to terms with Justin's tattoo. I don't like it, but he could have done something worse. At 18 he could have joined the army or gotten married.--a tattoo is certainly preferable in my mind. His hand is definitely broken in at least two places. We go tomorrow at 1:00 to the doctor who puts casts on. The doctor did not put a cast on his hand. He told him to wear the splint constantly—the bones had shifted slightly in a week’s time. Justin is still taking the splint off to play video games. He has another appointment tomorrow (Tuesday) to make sure the bones are not shift more.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 2:11 AM CST

Hi Everyone,
Thanks so much for continuing to stop by and for remembering us in your prayers. The days just keep passing by… Thanksgiving, Jason’s birthday, and Christmas will all soon be here and our dear son won’t be here with us to celebrate.

The story of Jason’s battle with cancer is on the journal entry of Monday, September 5, 2005. His obituary is on the journal entry from Saturday, August 27, 2005 or at the funeral home website: www.henline-hughes.com/obituaries/Archer_Jason.htm with a picture there you may not have seen.

"(originally posted on 10/27) At church on Wednesday night, I saw Joan Royal for the first time in months. She is the sweetest lady, and the proud grandmother of 3 beautiful granddaughters who attend church at First Baptist. The youngest granddaughter, who is probably 9 years old, was there to help her manage the wheelchair. Joan has relapsed breast cancer, that has spread to her hip and she is now in a wheelchair and a nursing home. I talked with her for awhile. She told me that her doctors are keeping her pain under control and that is so important. I didn’t ask her about what the doctors say about how much time she has left. I don’t know if I will ever see her dear face again. I thought afterwards that I should have asked her to tell Jason “Hi” for me when she gets to heaven. I’m sure she will anyways."

Please treasure the time you have here. Treasure and love your friends and family. Every day is special.

I noticed in the church bulletin this Sunday (11/6/05) during Sunday school that my friend Joan was in the hospital, instead of the nursing home, so I knew that she had to be having a difficult week. Just before prayer time in the service, prayer was requested for her family since Joan had passed away. I'm not sure of the date, but I was afraid that I had missed the funeral and everything--then I forgot to ask anyone. Jenny had to be up at the church at 3:00 for practice for the children's Christmas musical and when we got there I noticed all the cars and funeral home vehicles parked at the chapel. It was Joan's funeral service. I was just dressed casual so I didn't feel as though I could go into the service, so I sat outside the door listening. I didn't get to go in to see her dear face one last time though I could see the open casket as I peeked through the glass in the door. I cried as I remembered this dear sweet lady, who loved her beautiful granddaughters and her daughter so very much. She loved Jesus, VBS, and people, and was always at the church volunteering and even in the nursing home and in doctor's offices she was a witness for Jesus Christ her Savior. Even though during Jason's illness, Joan relapsed with her own cancer and even as she became bald from chemo, she was still always so concerned for Jason and asked about him and prayed for him. I am so glad that I got to just sit and talk with her that one last time on a Wednesday night. There was just something about her that night--I really thought that she would be going on to heaven very soon. I thought about her all this week--wanting to do something special for her--take her a vase of roses or something--I had no idea of the struggle she had to go through this week and now I can't take her a vase of flowers. Her daughter stopped by where I sat and said she was so glad that I could be there. Please pray for comfort for the family of this dear lady—Joan Royal. We know that Joan has gone on to be with the Lord.

Kevin and Sriya are both having a very difficult time this week. Oh, how we desire a miracle for them. Please stop by their websites—listed below and pray for them. Tonight, Kevin is in the hospital on IV antibiotics. He has developed pneumonia. Little Sriya’s tumors are growing much bigger.
My best friend Jewel from East TN came with her family for a short visit. Her son Daniel was Jason' best friend when we lived there. Her children came to go to a concert at RocketTown in Nashville. They had a good time at the concert, but sure had a difficult time getting to sleep Friday night. Donnie, Jewel's husband, spent hours on Thursday, copying tapes they had with Jason in them. There were tapes I had never seen. There is one of little 3 year old Jason that I loved. I was moved to tears several times as I watched the tape. I found a few more family pictures, some with Jason in them, this week.
Our pastor Brother Glenn and his daughter Amy Cooper are recovering from surgery.
On the week of October 24, a Tuesday, Amy gave one of her kidneys to her dad. Both are recovering well, and Brother Glenn is supposed to be resting, but I know he has been up to the church. This week for the Sunday morning service Aaron Swartz, our minister of evangelism, spoke. The title of his sermon was “Who Am I?” With the text from Romans 8. Special music was a ladies quartet and they sang “Dying to Reach You” and LeaAnn Altizer sang a solo with the choir-- “God is Here.” Aaron led in a guided prayer after the choir sang and one of the things he mentioned was laying our burdens, sins… at Jesus feet. That really spoke to me. I really felt the need to just lay all my hurt over Jason’s death at Jesus feet. I just really felt the need to say “Abba, Father” “my daddy” and confess that I hurt and that I didn’t want Jason to die and that I don’t understand it and that it is just hard and ask Him again to please just help me. Somehow I have felt a little better this week—though I still miss Jason terribly and I still cry. In answer to the question which was the title of Aaron’s sermon, “Who am I?”—if you are a Christian—it is “I am in Christ.” I kept thinking of the Casting Crowns song, “Who Am I?” Jason didn’t like to listen to this song, so I didn’t make him. I think it was because Jason knew that he was the flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind. We all are. Our lives here are so temporary and yet God still cares for us, loves us, knows each name, knows each hurt. Praise His Holy name.

Artist: Casting crowns
Song: Who am I lyrics

Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt,
Who am I?
That the Bright and Morning Star,
Would choose to light the way,
For my ever wandering heart,

Not because of who I am,
But because of what You've done,
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who You are,

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean (ocean),
A vapor in the wind,
Still You hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling,
And You've told me who I am..
I am Yours.

Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin,
Would look on me with love,
and watch me rise again,
Who am I?
That the voice that calmed the sea,
Would call out through the rain,
And calm the storm in me,

Not because of who I am,
But because of what You've done,
Not because of what I've done,
But because of who You are,

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean (ocean),
A vapor in the wind,
Still You hear me when I'm calling,
Lord, You catch me when I'm falling,
And You've told me who I am...
I am Yours, I am Yours.

I am Yours,
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I fear?
'Cause I am Yours,
I am Yours.

When I was visiting someone’s caringbridge page today (Monday) I read that Rascal Flatts’ song “Skin” has risen to number 2 on the country charts. It is about a teenage girl who has cancer. The lyrics touch my heart. We had these same feelings expressed in the song. Let me clarify. If Jason ever felt "scared to death" he didn't let it show at all. He was always trying to reassure us that everything would be okay and all we could do for him was pray. Katie just told me now that if Jason were scared at all, it wasn't for himself, but for us. It is just very poignant. How I wish that Jason and Katie could be dancing around and around without any cares and holding each other close. Katie really was Jason’s very first true love.

Tonight, Jenny and I were in Dollar Tree at the mall when I heard the song “Skin” start playing over the sound system and I briefly told Jenny what it was about. One older lady shopping in the same aisle heard me and said, “I think that I am going to have to leave. I really can’t listen to this song. I just get too emotional.” I told her that my 19 year old son died of cancer just 2 months ago. Jenny said, “Momma, don’t say anymore or you start crying.” The song played and I cried, of course. It is only a few more weeks until the senior formal. Jason didn’t get to go with Katie last year to the dance. He thought he would be having chemo and told Katie not to come, but then he stopped chemo that week and went with friends to the formal. He didn’t dance with anyone since Katie wasn’t there. Jason’s birthday is coming up. He would have turned 20 this year.

Sarabeth is scared to death
To hear what the doctor will say
She hasn't been well
Since the day that she fell
And the bruise, just won't go away
So she sits and she waits with her mother and dad
Flips through an old magazine
Till a the nurse with a smile
Stands at the door
And says will you please come with me

Sarabeth is scared to death
Cause the doctor just told her the news
Between the red cells and white
Something's not right
But we're gonna take care of you

Six chances in ten it won't come back again
With the therapy were gonna try
It's just been approved
It's the strongest there is
I think we caught it in time

Sarabeth closes her eyes
And she dreams she's dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And the soft wind is blowing her hair

Sarabeth is scared to death
As she sits holding her mom
Cause it would be a mistake
For someone to take
A girl with no hair to the prom

For, just this morning right there on her pillow
Was the cruelest of any surprise
And she cried when she gathered it all in her hands
The proof that she couldn't deny

Sarabeth closes her eyes
And she dreams she's dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And the soft wind is blowing her hair

Its quarter to seven
That boys at the door
And her daddy ushers him in
And when he takes off his cap
They all start to cry
Cause this mornin where his hair had been
Softly she touches just skin

And they go dancin
Around and around without any cares
And her very first true love is holding her close
And for a moment she isn't scared
Katie and I were instant messaging tonight(Tuesday, November 8). Today would have been Jason and Katie's one year anniversary. She left a note in the guestbook tonight. I was also thinking of the next song which is by Diamond Rio and as it turned out, Katie was playing it at the same time. It is the one she is talking about.
One More Day
~ Diamond Rio ~
Last night I had a crazy dream
A wish was granted just for me
It could be for anything
I didn't ask for money
Or a mansion in Malibu
I simply wished for one more day with you

One more day, one more time
One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again, I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you
One more day...

First thing I'd do is pray for time to crawl
I'd unplug the telephone and keep the TV off
I'd hold you every second
Say a million 'I Love You's'
That's what I'd do with one more day with you

One more day, one more time
One more sunset maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you

One more day, one more time
One more sunset maybe I'd be satisfied
But then again I know what it would do
Leave me wishing still for one more day
Leave me wishing still for one more day
Leave me wishing still for one more day with you.

Thank you for thinking of us.
God bless you and all those you love.

In Christ,

Friday, November 4, 2005 3:41 AM CST

Another week, without Jason. I look at his pictures and cry. The pictures of when he was on chemo, with his bald head, especially make me cry because they remind me of the suffering he went through—so much of it for our sakes. He was ready to go to heaven, but just didn’t want for us to hurt. He really never wanted to hurt anyone or anything and would endure pain to spare others. All his life, his response when he got hurt was, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll be fine.” I look at his pictures and think: How can this be? How can he be gone? How can it be true? ….but he really is gone. I know you get tired of hearing it—but I miss him so much. I touch Jason’s pictures gently and say, “Oh, Honey, I miss you.” Tears fall so easily. I never knew that I could hurt so much. My heart had grown calloused, in response to the attitudes of my teenage sons who sometimes hurt my feelings and didn't seem to care. Now my heart is just broken. I do fine out in a crowd. I can carry on a conversation. I am not in tears constantly--even at home and sometimes I smile and laugh, but always there is an emptiness and an ache in my heart.

This past week on October 28, Jenny, Josh and I read from a devotional book. I really thought that I had turned to the correct page, but when I tried to find it to show David, I searched and searched for it and it was actually for August 28—3 days after Jason left us, but I think that God led me to read that page this week. The entry for that day made me cry because it had one of my favorite verses, Proverbs 3:5-6 as well as the verse that Jason had searched for and couldn’t find that explained to him (and us) why God was taking him away now--in our minds too soon, though, obviously we don’t understand God’s plan. This is what it said:

God Knows What’s Best
“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding.” Prov. 3:5 The problem with this world is that it doesn’t fit. Oh, it will do for now, but it isn’t tailor-made. We were made to live with God, but on earth we live by faith. We were made to live forever, but on this earth we live but for a moment… We must trust God. We must trust not only that he does what is best but that he knows what is ahead. Ponder the words of Isaiah 57:1-2: “The good men perish; the godly die before their time and no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to realize that God is taking them away from the evil days ahead. For the godly who die shall rest in peace” (TLB). My, what a thought. God is taking them away from the evil days ahead. Could death be God’s grace? Could the funeral wreath be God’s safety ring? As horrible as the grave may be, could it be God’s protection from the future? Trust in God, Jesus urges, and trust in me

Jason’s little brother, our son, Justin, is now 18 years old. His birthday was 10/28. He told me that he wants to get a tattoo. He has waited until now to get one because you have to have a parent’s signature before age 18, and we wouldn’t sign. His sister, Jenny, is upset about him getting a tattoo. He told her exactly when, but told her not to tell us. So Tuesday while Jenny was at her piano lesson Justin got a tattoo. After piano Jenny had her first (and last since they lost) game in the soccer tournament. Her team played the best they’ve played the whole season and came so close to a tie, but the other team scored near the end so it was 2-1. When Justin came home, he did have his tattoo—on his side—guns and roses I think. David tells me to keep it all in perspective. He says a lot of people nowadays get tattoos—more than I would think, he says. I just don’t understand why Justin has to go off and do these things that he knows that we don’t want him to do. I even had a talk with him tonight asking him if he is just trying to do things because we don’t want him to do them, but he says that isn’t why. David totally ignored the tattoo. Justin even asked, “Does Dad know about it?” Justin is so proud of it and left a few minutes ago to show it off to some of his friends. I so wish that we could send Justin to the Christian college I went to, even if it were just for a couple of years. When I went there as a new Christian it really made a difference in my life. Jenny and Joshua are still so sweet. Jenny says that she would never do anything like get a tattoo, but I do think that Justin is having a bad influence on her. When she saw his tattoo, Jenny said, “Oh, cool!” Still she says that she wouldn’t do that. Okay—keeping it in perspective as David said—at least Justin is here—alive and healthy and a tattoo isn’t so awful (especially since it is not in a highly visible spot) and he is a good, hard-working boy. How significant is a tattoo in the long run anyway when I consider what we’ve been through this year. I wish that Jason were here—even doing crazy things like Justin, jumping off rope swings under bridges in the summer…getting a tattoo. Really all that is just normal teen stuff……..sometimes it is a wonder that any of them make it alive out of their teenage years. (I mentioned to Justin my wish for Jason to be here and he said, “You know that Jason wanted to get a tattoo don’t you, Mom.” “I know,” I said. “…and you’d have gotten all mad at him if he’d gotten one, wouldn’t you?” “Probably,” I said. But in reality—Jason spoke of getting a tattoo this past summer—how could we get mad at Jason over anything when he was dying of cancer. We just wanted him to live.
Today (Thursday), the children and I went to the dentist. Everyone’s teeth were fine—no cavities! This was the first time back to our dentist’s office without Jason. Once on Reading Rainbow, a book called The Very Last First Time was reviewed. I think about that book sometimes when I say “first time” for something—it will never be the first time again. There are a lot of first times without Jason. (Justin’s first birthday with Jason gone, the first autumn without him, the first Christmas without him, etc.) Our dentist and his staff asked how we are doing and said that they are still praying for us. Just as the dentist came in to talk to me, a song played in the office that made me cry. It isn’t even a sad song. It is actually a wonderful song. It just brought back memories of happy times when Jason lived and breathed in my sight and the future was full of endless possibilities for him.
The song was Steven Curtis Chapman’s
“The Great Adventure.” Here are the words:
[1 Cor. 2:9-10, Eph 2:4-10]

Saddle up your horses

Started out this morning in the usual way
Chasing thoughts inside my head of all I had to do today
Another time around the circle try to make it better than the last

I opened up the Bible and I read about me
Said I'd been a prisoner and God's grace had set me free
And somewhere between the pages it hit me like a lightning bolt
I saw a big frontier in front of me and I heard somebody say "let's go"!

Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other - this is The Great Adventure

Come on get ready for the ride of your life
Gonna leave long faced religion in a cloud of dust behind
And discover all the new horizons just waiting to be explored
This is what we were created for


We'll travel over, over mountains so high
We'll go through valleys below
Still through it all we'll find that
This is the greatest journey that the human heart will ever see
The love of God will take us far beyond our wildest dreams

Yeah... oh saddle up your horses... come on get ready to ride


I have always especially loved the chorus. You know, life in Christ is a Great Adventure. The significance of the song to me is also tied in with the mission trip our family went on in 1994. Jason was 9, Justin was 7, and Josh was 4. (David and I were 38.) I had just had a miscarriage in May of 1994 and the trip was in June, the year before Jenny was born in April of 1995. Our good friends, the Taylors and our family drove out to Arizona but we were not together. We visited several national parks (Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, Grand Canyon, Arches and one other) before the week of the actual mission project. Many others in the group flew out. Three different churches worked together on the mission trip which was to conduct several Vacation Bible Schools for children on the Indian reservation. It was a wonderful trip. The air conditioner on our Plymouth Voyager stopped working in Albuquerque, NM—it froze up, but we didn’t know it and so the belt that ran it became strained and snapped and broke as we headed toward the desert into Utah. That same belt ran the alternator, which charged the battery, so when we stopped at a rest area, David noticed that the blinker didn’t work as he signaled the turn and then that the windshield wipers didn’t work There we were stranded in the hot desert at a rest area (that had water and bathrooms, thankfully–not all rest areas out their do) with a completely dead battery, our 3 little boys, and a few slices of bread and meat for sandwiches) God provided—some wonderful people—knew exactly what the problem was—borrowed cables—charged the battery—followed us in their motor home as we coasted to the nearest town while we were praying the entire way-60 miles away—God even changed the wind direction (only during that brief time) so that the wind pushed us there. We coasted into the first gas station we came to and the car was dead again. At the station they put on a shorter belt that by-passed the air-conditioner and charged the battery for us. Our journey was barely interrupted, except to see God’s provision for us and how God answers prayer. And we saw God’s provision for us the entire week of the mission trip. Needed rain came, without the high winds that usually occur that would have blown our tents down—rainbows and double rainbows in the sky. Justin was so eager to witness to Indians from the reservation—but he didn’t even know which people were Indians. He thought one of the African-American ladies from one of the other churches was an Indian and tried to witness to her. That is a precious memory. The little children from the Indian reservation were precious, too, and many prayed to receive Christ that week. Each morning for the entire week, a trio that included our youth minister and two of his friends with guitars walked around the tents where we slept and sang and played “The Great Adventure” as our wake up call. My boys were all happy, healthy, and strong and their whole lives lay before them. Who would have thought that 10 years later our oldest son would die from cancer-that his “whole life” here on earth would last only 19 years?

This evening (Thursday) Justin called to say that he couldn’t drive home because he broke his wrist skateboarding. His friend Michael drove him to Josh C.’s house. For a skateboarder to admit (to his parents) that he is having pain means he is really hurting. David and I drove over to get him and the car and to take him to the emergency room. The X-ray does show that Justin’s left hand is broken in two places. A splint was placed on it and we have to make an appointment tomorrow with another doctor to put a cast on next week—after the swelling has gone down.

Thank you for stopping by and remembering our family in your prayers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005 1:48 AM CDT

Thoughts this week

Well, it has been more than a week since I posted anything. I am sorry. I really mean to do this every week, just as a journal of my thoughts during this time of grieving over the loss of Jason. I still stop by every day and I so appreciate the messages that you’ve left here and your prayers for our family.

I also wanted to say that if any of you have pictures or video of Jason, anything at all, it would mean so much to us to have a copy of it. Each little picture is such a treasure as we won't ever get to take more pictures of him.

It has been a busy week. Last Wednesday, the pizzas for our school fund raiser were delivered to the school, so we had to get them delivered before church that night, and . we actually did get them all delivered that afternoon. We still have cookie dough to deliver to three homes, but we just haven’t had a chance to do it. At church on Wednesday night, Joan Royal was there for the first time in months. She is the sweetest lady. She has relapsed cancer and is now in a wheelchair. I talked with her for awhile. They are keeping her pain under control and that is so important. I didn’t ask her about what the doctors say about how much time she has left. I don’t know if I will ever see her dear face again. I thought afterwards that I should have asked her to tell Jason “Hi” for me when she gets to heaven. I’m sure she will anyways. I had to come home Wednesday night and clean out the car so that David could have it for a trip. Justin asked for his birthday present and his birthday party to be a trip with his friends to a super skate park in Kettering, Ohio. David, Justin, and four of Justin’s friends left, not so early, on Thursday. It was afternoon before they left, because David made Justin clean the Civic, inside and out, so it would be nice for me. David called several times while they were on the trip. It rained on them most of the way there. It rained on Friday, too, so David took the boys to an indoor skate park they found. On Friday night David bought them pizza and they had birthday cake in the hotel room. Finally on Saturday, even though it was cold, it cleared up enough so that they could skate at the outdoor park—their whole reason for traveling 5 ½ hours to Kettering. David finally got to go to the airplane museum in Dayton on Saturday while they were skating. They drove home on Sunday, again in the rain, stopping at Louisville, KY at the big skate park there on the way back, but they didn’t get to skate, because of the rain.

Back at home, we had to leave by 2:30 on Thursday to get Joshua to his bowling league and afterwards there was a school party with two other schools invited which lasted from 6-9. Joshua didn’t want me to stay at the bowling alley. After I watched him bowl for 1 game and part of the next, he said, “Mom, I thought you said you were not staying.” Jenny and I went to eat at this great restaurant with a buffet of Chinese food. I thought of how much Jason would have liked it. It even had snow crab legs and he loved those—and he also loved Chinese food. After eating at the Chinese restaurant, the two of us went shopping. We went to Hobby Lobby and Big Lots. I looked at Christmas decorations at both places and thought of how sad Christmas will be without Jason. There weren’t many people there and no one really noticed my tears as I stood pretty much alone in the Christmas aisles.

We haven’t ordered the headstone for his grave yet. I’ve looked at a lot of stones. I cried when I talked to one lady at a monument company about prices—when I told her that our 19 year old son had died from cancer. The prices seemed high there—it is a place that says they use the best stone and have guarantees. The prices start at $2900 for a stone that is fairly plain and go up to over $5000 for the solid black ones or anything else special. I had thought Jason would like one of the black ones, but $5000 is more than we could pay. I want one with a cross on it. I would like for it to be somewhat unique and I want a picture of Jason on the stone—they make porcelain pictures that are durable and guaranteed. I want one that is sort of straight on top so that we can put a saddle arrangement of flowers on it. That way the flowers will always be there. I was on the internet a lot this week just trying to decide on a stone that will do. We have brochures from the funeral home in Bakersville, but I haven’t called them yet. I probably should soon, just to check their prices. The Christmas decorations that we saw made me wish that the stone was already in place so that I could decorate his grave for Christmas. Of course, I start thinking about him being up on the hill, in the cold ground, while we will be celebrating the holidays in the warmth of our home and his Granny’s home without him. Just typing this—I’m crying again.

This week I imagined myself standing at a wishing well, throwing penny after penny into the well, wishing that I could have Jason back—healthy and well. Wishing and wishing that this cancer had never happened. The image of myself standing there, throwing hundreds and thousands and millions of pennies endlessly into the well, knowing my wish can never come true, makes me cry. Don’t get me wrong. I know that he is in a better place and that he wouldn’t even want to come back here now, but it hurts so much as the days pass by.

Justin lost one of his school books last Wednesday and although we looked for the book, since we had the pizzas to deliver, I didn’t do anything about getting copies of pages of the book or his assignment until last night—Monday.. I had to drive a long way to borrow the book and then to get copies. Too much time alone in the car even with music playing I end up crying. So I cried some on the way there and back.

A thought crossed my mind that makes me so sad. We had prayed and prayed for years and years for a baby. After 6 ½ years God blessed us with baby Jason, 9 days before Christmas. What if God had come to us before Jason was conceived and said, “I will bless you with a baby, a wonderful, precious little boy. You will be overjoyed at his birth and will love him. Just after his 18th birthday you will learn that he has cancer and before he is 20 he will return to Heaven to be with Me. Knowing this—do you still want this child?” Oh, how we were tortured standing helplessly by as he endured chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Knowing him, having him as our son was such a joy. We were so proud of him. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss knowing Jason. These thoughts bring tears to my eyes.

Today, I had the opportunity to help in the nursery. I really just needed to be there to watch a teacher’s sweet little daughter who is about a year old and only from 3:30 to 4:00, but I went over at 3:00 just when the little girl arrived at the nursery, so I stayed for the full hour. Of course, I loved being in the nursery and taking care of this baby. Another lady was also in the nursery. I think that she probably watches the nursery from 1:30-3:30. She is the mommy to a newborn baby girl who was there—so sweet—so precious. She said that yesterday her baby girl was 2 months old. As of yesterday, Jason has been gone for 2 months. The day he died, this little baby was born. I didn’t cry about it for now—it is just something to think about and as she grows I will remember Jason. His life and his death. The joy and the sadness.

Thank you so much for praying for us and for stopping by this site to visit.

Monday, October 17, 2005 12:42 AM CDT

Thanks for continuing to stop by and for continuing to pray for us. The holidays are coming and so is Jason’s birthday. Those will be especially difficult times for us as we try to celebrate without our Jason. Our Sunday school class bought a beautiful weeping cherry tree and someone came out on Saturday and planted it in our front yard--Thank you so much for remembering Jason in this way. It means so much to us. Thank you to our class and to Scott who came out and planted the tree.

This week, I cried as I drove by the mailbox on Cherokee Road that Jason crashed into in spring 2003, totalling a car the spring before he was diagnosed with cancer. For some reason we had saved the rear passenger door that was ripped off in the wreck and had kept it in the garage all this time. We used to kid Jason that we might mount the door on his wall and we all including Jason laughed about it. Now Jason's not here for us to joke around with. He had such a great sense of humor, usually his jokes went over my head, just like with his Dad's jokes. When he had the wreck we were just so thankful that no one was hurt and hoped he had learned his lesson about driving too fast. I know we didn't need that old door, but it made me sad when David put it out in the trash when we cleaned out the garage 2 weeks after Jason died. David said, "It's not a good memory, is it?" I guess the wreck wasn't a good memory, but at the time he wrecked the car, Jason was completely healthy to all appearances and remembering Jason as healthy is a good memory that brings tears to my eyes. I cried again when I told David about how I felt as I went past that old brick mailbox (repaired now of course-cost our insurance a $1000).

I can't even prepare food in my kitchen without thinking of Jason. His favorite foods were homemade tacos with all the fixings and Chinese stir-fry, so it will be hard to ever fix those again. He also liked canned mandarin oranges, fresh pineapples, peaches and pears. He loved fruit slush drinks and often got drinks from a place called Thristys in the mall. When peaches were in season, I would buy big baskets and bring them home and refrigerate them to make peach slushes for Jason and he loved those. The weekend before he died I bought 2 large baskets of peaches in East TN for him. I only got to make 1 or 2 slushes for him before he was gone and the rest of the peaches are still in the vegetable bins in our extra refrigerator. They were for Jason..........

Kind of silly, I know, -- seeing a fresh peach or a pear, a can of mandarin oranges or pineapples--some of Jason's favorite fruits and thinking with sadness about him. Or seeing that old mailbox he hit with the car and remembering him. He is always on my mind. I am trying now to write thank you cards for all the flowers people sent. After that I will start writing thank you cards for the checks people sent for rhabdomyosarcoma research and for the Gideon Bibles. It has been hard getting around to writing all these cards and I feel like I have waited too long to do it, but at first I just couldn't write them.

Sunday Church--another Sunday without Jason. As I was walking to the sanctuary for worship service I was alone. David stayed home with his stomach hurting, Justin had to work at Arby's from 10-6, Joshua wanted to sit with his friend and Jenny had spent the night at a friend's house and wanted to go to her friend's Sunday school class. The dad of one of Jenny's friends stopped me in the hall and asked me how we are doing. Okay--I said, but we miss him so much.... He talked about his wife's 19 year old nephew. The boy had died in a car wreck a year or two ago and of how much the family misses him--I mentioned my brother who died in a car wreck at almost 15 and how I knew we would hurt when Jason was gone. Our Sunday school must have let out a little late. I really didn't talk a lot, but the choir and congregation had already started singing as I walked around the hall at the back of the sanctuary to get to the stairs to walk down to my usual seat. I was kind of glad that I wasn't in there early because the song they were singing always brings tears to my eyes now, as it did during the months that Jason suffered from cancer. The song was:

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Oh, There's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Well Blessed be your name.
It is easy to sing praise to God when things are fine: In the land that is plentiful Where the streams of abundance flow. When the sun's shining down on me When the world's all as it should be-----
I can remember when times were good in our lives

My tears come as I try to sing: On the road marked with suffering
Oh, There's pain in the offering and the part about you give and take away.

We know that road marked with suffering now and still we choose to say "Blessed be the name of the Lord" God gave us a wonderful blessing when he sent us that little baby 9 days before Christmas in 1985. My sweet Jason and now God has taken him away and my tears fall. I sang the song a bit as I walked to my seat, but not like I would have if I had already found my seat. As I walked, I noticed some teenage guys standing and talking in a spot that Jason used to stand with his friends. When Jason would see me he would look up and wave his hand and say "Hi, Mom!" I won't be seeing him there with his friends. There is no use in me ever looking for him --he won't be there again, but I can't help remembering my boy and wishing that I could see him again soon. (I know that I will see him in heaven.) Then I got to thinking about last Mother's Day. Jason came to church that day and although he wasn't feeling well, he hadn't told us that he was hurting. Many of his friends sat with their moms that day, but since our Sunday school class is at the same time as the worship service that Jason liked to attend, I wasn't there. David sat with Jason for a while until another of his friends came whose mother wasn't in that service. When David told me--I thought of how I should have been there with Jason--as it could be the last time that he would be with me on Mother's Day. And it was--my last Mother's Day with my first born son. It was Jason's birth that made me a mommy and I was so happy being his mom.

I don't think that there will be those special days in heaven--Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, Christmas. This afternoon, David said that every day in heaven will be special. I do look forward to the day when I will be with my Jason in heaven, but I'll never spend another Mother's Day with him.

The special choir song was "I Will Trust in You"

The pastor's sermon was "When Trouble Comes" Phillippians 1:1-11. His points were:
1) Prayer must be a first response and not a last resort. (verses 3-4)
2) Pray with a spirit of gratitude. (verses 3-5)
3) Pray for God's glory and not self gratification. (verses 9-11)

Then we sang "What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

In the sermon the pastor said that he need to weave prayer into the fabric of our life so that when trouble comes we will be ready. (No one is exempt from trouble). My pastor will be having a kidney transplant on 10/25. His sweet daughter is giving him one of her kidneys. Please pray for them.

Really The sermon was very applicable to our situation--because trouble came to our home--the kids were always so healthy. Jason was the healthiest of all my children. Then, Jason got sick and it was stage 4 cancer, the doctors said he wouldn't be cured, and the cancer spread--and he died. I saw a commercial on Disney Channel--about special olympics--there was a boy in a wheelchair and I thought would I have wanted Jason to live if it meant him living with a handicap? Yes, perhaps it is very selfish, but if he could have lived and had good quality of life even if it meant a handicap-which would have made me sad at all that he had lost--I still would have wanted him to live. But it wasn't a choice we had to make so we are left here missing him--always missing him.

Since Jason was diagnosed with cancer we have met many people also suffering from cancer. I don't always feel that I can burden you with all the hurt--and cancer is a world of hurt, especially the childhood cancer that we have been introduced to. I never thought it would come near our family but it did, and broke our hearts.
Please remember to pray for our friends with cancer:
http://www3.caringbridge.org/nv/richie/ - the doctors say that they truly believe that it is cancer, but are not sure what kind. They will get the biopsy results back tomorrow. Pray that it isn’t cancer, or that if it is that it is lymphoma since there is a better chance of a cure and not a relapse of rhabdo.
http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/kevinmartin/ - pray for pain control, miraculous healing, good days with his family, that he can eat and gain some weight.
http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/connorhunley/ - comfort and strength on the first anniversary of his passing 11/1/04 and his first birthday in heaven 10/31/05.
http://www2.caringbridge.org/ca/sriya/ - 3 year old little girl in a lot of pain and on hospice. She has rhabdomyosarcoma. On her website her mother wrote that they have gotten some pain control now. Pray for good days for this little child—and a miracle.

God bless each of you and thank you once again for stopping by.

David and Pam Archer

Sunday, October 9, 2005 0:50 AM CDT

Since Jason was diagnosed with cancer we have met many people also suffering from cancer. I don't always feel that I can burden you with all the hurt--and cancer is a world of hurt, especially the childhood cancer that we have been introduced to. I never thought it would come near our family but it did, and broke our hearts.

I especially wanted to ask you to pray for these families. Please pray for Richie Shannon. http://www3.caringbridge.org/nv/richie/ He is from Nevada, but visited with Jason in January with his best friend Ryan who lives near us. Richie and Ryan were right here in our house and played videogames with Jason. Richie was diagnosed at age 9 with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma Stage IV on 10/26/00, went through chemo and was declared cancer-free 12/01, and then on 3/19/2003 the cancer had returned. Richie had more chemotherapy, and a stem-cell transplant. Yesterday, October 5, 2005 on day 762 after his transplant a large mass has been found in his abdomen and the doctors are assuming it is a return of the same cancer. Pray that it is not cancer. If it is there are not many options left and I'm not sure that Richie wants to go through it again. Richie is only 14. They have heard relapse so much, false alarms sometimes that they talk about it calmly as though it is just the weather and say that they are confident in Richie's faith and that if the cancer is back then Richie is ready to go. Such faith--but knowing that your child is going to heaven helps so much. The mom recently had surgery for thyroid cancer and now this. His family is wonderful. They have their youth group over a lot. Go to lots of Christian concerts. Live life to the full. They are just really nice people. His dad is a youth minister at their church.

Second, please pray for the Kevin and Linda Martin and their family. http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/kevinmartin/ I have asked you to pray for them before. They live near us and it was their son Ryan who visited us with Richie. Kevin had colon cancer 10 years ago and his colon was removed and things were fine up until about a year ago when the cancer had relapsed in many places. Things just don't look good for him -- he is so weak and he sleeps more and more and has lost so much weight--and the cancer keeps growing. The colon cancer he has is an inherited cancer called FAP Garners Syndrome. So far the oldest two of his 5 children were tested for the gene that causes it and Ryan tested positive and already has many polyps that will become cancerous in time--his colon will have to be removed within a few years to prevent the cancer. Pray for Kevin, his wife Linda and his 5 children (their youngest two are only 4 and 6 I think) as they face what the doctors say is inevitable--
When Ryan heard that his best friend Richie has relapsed again he just went to his room and locked the door. His dad is so sick and now his best friend--

We met the Martins through Connor's family. http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/connorhunley/ Connor had the same kind of cancer as Jason and was from here in our town. He died last November the day after his 10th birthday. He was Eddie and Rhonda's only child. I know Eddie and Rhonda also need prayer -- Connor's birthday is October 31 and he died November 1, 2004--this will be the one year anniversary of his passing, as well as Connor's first birthday with him in heaven.

The above families I have met personally. On a list for Jason's kind of cancer I have met many others that have rhabdo. Sometimes there are stories of clear scans and good news, but for little 3 year old Sriya http://www2.caringbridge.org/ca/sriya/ who lives in CA (with the same cancer as Jason) the news is not good. No chemo has held her cancer in remission. It just keeps growing. Usually children her age have a better outcome with this cancer, but not always. Her doctors want her to go on hospice and have told her parents that there is nothing else they can do for her. This precious little child can no longer even sit up by herself and is in more and more pain. She is so small and has been through so much. Please pray for Sriya and her parents, too. They are asking special prayers concerning her last days. “We really hope that we can control her pain and the remaining days that she has will go by as smoothly as possible and she will still be able to smile and talk till the very last day.”

I know that there is a lot of pain in the world. Starving children in other countries, mean people who hurt others, wars, disasters--but until my son was diagnosed with cancer--the pain was out there and we were insulated from it. Now we feel the pain of great loss ourselves as we have watched our son suffer and die from a cancer that could not be cured even with the strongest chemotherapy available.

I also just learned that participating Volvo dealerships are donating money for childhood cancer research this week--October 8-16. It is called Volvo for life -- if you want to look it up -- for each person that test drives a Volvo they donate $20 for childhood cancer research. We have no intention of buying a new car right now, but we may go down to the Volvo dealership (a distance away) to thank them for doing this, to tell them a little about Jason and our other friends (children with cancer) and to test drive a Volvo. Childhood cancer research is so under funded--and even more so the rare childhood cancers -- all the childhood sarcomas (rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing’s and others), Wilm's Tumor, neuroblastoma. This week was a big one for raising money for breast cancer research, well advertised, but so few even know that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Please let me know if you hear of other big companies like this -- Chili's and Volvo who are supporting childhood cancer research.

I cashed in all of Jason's savings bonds this week. His grandparents
had bought him a bond each year on his birthday since he was one year
old. They were supposed to be for college expenses. I closed his
checking account, too. The money was put into our checking to help pay
for the funeral expenses that David paid with a credit card. We haven't
received Jason's life insurance payment yet. I was very sad as I closed
another part of Jason's life. How I wish he could have used the bonds
for their intended purpose and that he could have spent the money in his
account for something that made him happy. These things echo in my mind
over and over, "He's gone" and "I miss him." We do count on God's
promises and live in the hope that we will see Jason again, but this
hurts so much.

Jason was so strong as he faced his death, never any crying, but I don't
feel so strong-I do cry. My heart is broken. Oh, we are all carrying
on, probably the kids better than David and me (but then they never talk about it) and David better than
me-I am just so emotional. I never could hide my emotions.

God bless each of you.

David and Pam Archer

Sunday, October 2, 2005 6:11 PM CDT

Hi Everyone,
It has been a long time since I posted anything here. I just thought I would write. I do still stop by every single day when I am home and so appreciate it that you still stop by and leave messages. Thank you for visiting Jason's page. I had shared the following paragraphs with others and thought I would share them here, too. This week was a busy one and full of memories of Jason as we went on a school trip to the last place I can picture him healthy; and I so wish that he could be here with us healthy and strong again.


On Monday night we went out to eat at one of the Chili's restaurants where I had placed Jason's picture with the coloring sheets that we purchased. All their profits from that night at the Chili’s nationwide and the money from the coloring sheets went to St. Jude's. Jenny even got one of the special tee-shirts they had for sale and the money for that went to the same cause. Some of these funds go to children's cancer research, though it isn't specifically rhabdomyosarcoma, they do research that cancer also. St. Jude's doesn't turn people away if they can't pay--at least that is what I've heard. I am glad that Chili's supports this worthy cause every September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Jason liked to eat at Chili's. Even when he didn't feel like going out sometimes we would bring him some of their chips and salsa, which he loved.

On Tuesday night, Centennial Hospital, where David, works had their special service recognition awards night. Last year at this time it was on a river boat with a paddle wheel. We cruised up and down the river from 6pm to 10pm. There was a sit down dinner, the awards and, then, desserts on the deck. Everyone liked it so much that they decided on the riverboat again. Last year when we went to this recognition service, Jason was alive. This year he is gone and we miss him so much. A lot of the people there knew of our loss -- our heartbreak and of course many expressed their sorrow for us. ....and I cried. Again we were told of how whole churches were praying for him. I had hoped to send thank you cards to each church that was praying for him, but I am beginning to think that is impossible. So many people were praying for him. It was a very nice evening and I enjoyed getting out and I even though I did cry—I also had fun.

I had to come home on Tuesday night and finish packing for the school trip to Land Between the Lakes. Jenny, Joshua, Justin and I all went on this trip. We had nice cabins to sleep in there and over 100 from our school went. I threw in sleeping bags for the boys, knowing that they would not "make" a bed, but I packed sheets for Jenny and me. We had to leave the house at 7:30AM on Wednesday and we just got back today, Friday, at 5:00PM. This trip was so full of memories of Jason. It has been two years since our school made this trip in the fall of Jason's senior year of high school. He had really come into his own as a senior. He seemed so happy, laughing with his friends. In fact, the last time we went to Land Between the Lakes is the last place that I really remember Jason alive and healthy-- being the boy we always knew--so full of life and vibrant, daring and brave, athletic and strong, even wild and crazy. It was 3 more months--right after Christmas 2003 when I learned that he was having the pain in his sternum and shortness of breath. Who could ever have imagined then the nightmare that we would live through that would weaken him and slowly sap his strength away and finally take his life? I finished filling a little photo album with our most recent pictures of him to take with us. It also had pictures of him starting from the age of 5 when Josh was just 6 months old. I just wanted to have pictures of him with me on the trip. I cried on the way there remembering and trying to remember more of the last time we went. This time Clorisa, Alan, Justin, and William kept scanning the radio stations and sometimes a favorite song of Jason's would play and that made me cry. We arrived at the planetarium and had lunch at the outdoor pavillion with the whole school group. When we drove up two years ago the elementary school students came one day ahead of the junior high and high school students. That year, Jenny came the day before without me since I was committed to driving the older kids. So two years ago, the older students had the picnic area to themselves on Thursday. The principal of their school reminded me of how Jason climbed the pine trees in the picnic area, practically walking straight up them. He climbed all over the playground equipment. and then some of his friends were all kidding and saying that Jason could jump over a tall bush in the field and Jason actually ran and acted as though he might jump over that huge bush, but instead he just jumped into the bush. He was so happy--having the best time--smiling more than I'd ever seen him smile, except when he was a little boy, but I think that was the way he was with his friends and more calm around us. I remember that day. After we all ate lunch we went to the planetarium show. After packing, getting up early and driving 3 hours, and eating lunch, many of us couldn't keep our eyes open through the show in the dark. I think I even snored--I do that, to my embarrassment, when I am very tired.

Two years ago, after the planetarium show, we drove on over to our cabins. I didn't see Jason and the other boys very much the rest of Thursday or Friday until we were ready to leave. I stayed with Jenny and did things with the younger group. I remember just getting a glimpse of Jason through the trees while he was on a challenge course on ropes pretty high in the trees, while Jenny's group was going on a nature hike. I have been told that he excelled on the challenge courses. When they did the orienteering (using a topographical map and a compass to find 4 points) Jason and Justin were in a group with Mr. Ed, and brothers Nathan and Jonathan W. All of them were very fast and the rules said they had to stay in a group and they did. Jason's group made a new record finishing the course in only 25 minutes as they ran through the whole course. The usual time for finishing is 1 1/2 hours. Justin just said that they did it quickly because of Jason--he just ran and encouraged the others to run to keep up with him. Jason always bragged about how quickly they finished the course. It was one thing he was proud of and it was unusual for Jason to brag about anything. So soon after this time he would be incapacitated by his cancer and by chemotherapy treatments and radiation burns to his foot.

This year (this morning-Friday) I went on the orienteering with Jenny's age group. Fourth, fifth and sixth grades must be the earliest that they are allowed to try it. We only found 2 of the targets in 1 1/2 hours. It was all girls, except for one dad who had his phone on and suddenly got reception on his phone and a call from work while standing on the side of a hill, so he couldn't move or he would lose reception. The little girls moved pretty slowly anyway. One of the other moms stayed with me and we finished the course on our own and it took us at least 2 1/2 hours, but it made me more amazed at what Jason had done.

One of the games all of the older kids play each year is a game called Human Stratego. I had never even seen it played until this year when I felt sorry for Joshua's and Justin's team and their tired medics. I was a medic for a little while so I could help heal the dead team members. The principal of the school said that 2 years ago Jason single-handedly won this game for his team. He was given a high numbered soldier card. High numbers in the game beat low numbers. Jason ran the entire time and no one could get away from him. He chased people down even up on the steep hill beside the football field where they ran to try to escape him. He brought his team leader many, many cards from the other team, always delivering them with a big smile. She said that he was totally amazing and that everyone just marveled at him as he ran swiftly over the field. There are no pictures of Jason playing the game. How could it even be captured on film. In my mind’s eye, I can imagine him running so very fast over the field and up that hill, but that is only my imagination. I wish that I really had seen him play this game two years ago.

I have only one picture from that time 2 years ago. It is a large group picture, but my boys are sort of together in it, with Josh in front and Jason with Justin on his shoulders behind Josh. I wish I had more pictures of him from that day or any day when he was alive and healthy and so happy, but then again, it might just make me sadder. The memories brought tears to my eyes. I came to the realization that even if I had rolls of pictures from every single day of Jason's life and if I had videotaped every waking moment from the day he was born so that I could just watch and watch videos of him and never stop for years---it would never be enough. Pictures are very nice, but they could never replace my living and breathing son and the future I had hoped for him. All those dreams.........

The adults are always kept busy on this trip. We are expected to participate and help in any way we can. There weren't too many chores for any of us, but we were busy, so I didn't have a lot of time to just sit and think and cry. I alternated doing things with Jenny and things with Josh and Justin. I saw Justin and Mitchell as their canoe flipped over and they were dunked in the water and had to swim out. I was so far away that I couldn't see who it was, but I walked over to get pictures and now I have proof. They were the only ones who flipped a canoe--they tried leaning to turn the canoe instead of just paddling. At dark last night the teenagers had something the leaders called "A Prayer Experience" and I participated in that. There were 24 prayers on separate sheets of paper that were passed one by one to each person. It was very meaningful to me. There were some prayers that made me cry. I wish I had a copy of all those prayers.

After that we went out for the annual bonfire and smore-making time. The principal always gets glow sticks and the kids have fun with those for hours. A cold front had moved through on Wednesday night and it had rained during the night. It caused the weather to cool down, so Thursday and Friday were absolutely perfect. The weather was beautiful--chilly in the morning, but warming to a very comfortable temperature each afternoon. Thursday night was cool and the sky was full of stars. In the remote area we were in it was very dark and we could even see the Milky Way.

We drove back Friday afternoon, after cleaning our cabins, and playing Mega-relay. (I didn't do the relay since Jamie and I were in the woods completing the orienteering course.) I came down late to watch them finish it up. Justin and Joshua's team won and got to go to lunch first. Joshua’s part of the relay was drinking a full 12oz can of soda as quickly as he could—he did an excellent job. He raced to be first in line at lunch. After lunch, a group picture was taken and then we headed back with the same people in my car. Driving back, we always take a slightly different route and go through Clarksville. I was back to thinking about the last time I had driven this way and Jason being alive and who was in my car back then with Jason and Justin. I know that Emily D. and Jenny M. were with us, but I can't remember which boys came. Some of Jason's favorite songs and groups played on the radio and I remembered and cried.

I heard this song and this part so applies to how parents feel about their children, especially mothers.

"I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life
I think I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life...

A thousand angels dance around you........"

From the moment we know that we are expecting a baby our love for that child grows and grows and that love never stops... It made me think of when we learned that we were expecting Jason after so many years and so many prayers. We were so happy and I loved him from the moment we knew. He was due on Christmas Day, but was born 9 days early on 12/16/85 an early Christmas gift from God. We were filled with joy and wonder as we held our sweet little baby boy. Jason – a blessing from God. I felt so unworthy to be so blessed.

I am glad I got to go on this trip. I wouldn't have missed it for the world even though it made me very sad as I remembered the last time we were there. It will be two years before we go back again. I thought it might be nice to have a nice matted and framed nature print with an In Memory of Jason Archer plate with the dates of his birth and death placed at this specific camp even though it is a restricted area that only reserved groups can visit. This is the last place in my memory that Jason ran happy and free. I'll have to think about it and perhaps contact someone at Land Between the Lakes.

I just miss him so much... and I can't stop missing him even though I know he is in a much better place. I want him here with me ... healthy and strong and that is something I can never have. I want the life we had back. Despite Jason's words--"I'll just be in heaven a few years before you," it has been just over a month and that seems so long.

Saturday, September 17, 2005 9:15 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,

Friday, September 23, 2005 -- We miss Jason so much -- there is such a void in our lives without him. I am reading a book called "Ninety Minutes in Heaven" about a man who was in a bad car wreck and was declared dead -- he was gone for 90 minutes -- during that time he was in heaven and he remembers it. Heaven sounds wonderful. We wouldn't want Jason to suffer another minute--but we hurt as we are missing him.

We really appreciate it that you still visit Jason’s page, think of him and pray for us as we go on without him. One of the family rules we have here is that the children occasionally call us to let us know that they are okay when they are out. Justin has even been grounded for not calling. I sure do wish that children were allowed just one phone call to their parents after arriving in heaven--kind of like the call I received from Jason when he got to Birmingham this past summer—“Don’t worry mom. I’ve arrived here safely.” We just have to take it on faith and we so look forward to the day when we will be there in heaven with Jason. Someone posted the following on the rhabdokids list with that same idea—

The Invisible Letter
Sally jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said, "How is my little boy? Is he going to be all right? When can I see him?" The surgeon said, "I'm sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn't make it." Sally said, "Why do little children get cancer? Doesn't God care anymore?" "Where were You, God, when my son needed You?"
The surgeon asked, "Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he's transported to the university." Sally asked the nurse to stay with her while she said goodbye to her son. She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick red curly hair. "Would you like a lock of his hair?" the nurse asked. Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy's hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally.
Sally said, "It was Jimmy's idea to donate his body to the university for study. He said it might help somebody else. "I said no at first, but Jimmy said, "Mom, I won't be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his mom." She went on, "My Jimmy had a heart of Gold. Always thinking of someone else. Always wanting to help others if he could." Sally walked out of Children's Mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there. She put the bag with Jimmy's belongings on the seat beside her in the car.
The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house. She carried Jimmy's belongings, and plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son's room. She started placing the model cars and other personal things, back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep. It was around midnight when Sally awoke. Lying beside her on the bed was a folded letter. The letter said:

Dear Mom,

I know you're going to miss me; but don't think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just 'cause I'm not around to say I LOVE YOU. I will always love you, Mom.
Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won't be so lonely, that's okay with me. He can have my room, and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn't like the same things us boys do. You'll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, y’know. Don't be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And, you know what? Jesus doesn't look like any of his pictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD! And guess what, Mom? I got to sit on God's knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important. That's when I told him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you goodbye and everything. But I already knew that wasn't allowed. Well, y'know what Mom? God handed me some paper and His own personal pen to write you this letter. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you. God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him, "Where was He when I needed him?"
God said He was in the same place with me, as when His son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children. Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I've written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn't that cool? I have to give God His pen back now. He needs it to write some names in the Book of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I'm sure the food will be great. Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don't hurt anymore. The cancer is all gone. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore...and God couldn't stand to see me hurt so much, either. That's when He sent The Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was Special Delivery! How about that?
Signed with Love from God
As far as how we are doing, well I guess we are doing okay. You know in many ways we have been in mourning since the day he was diagnosed in 2/04. The first few days after he passed away, my mind just could not take it in--that Jason is really gone. I couldn't get it to fit in my mind at all. Now--I just miss him so much. There is a huge emptiness that only he could fill. I don't cry all the time, but nothing really seems right anymore. I cry more when I am alone, but that isn't often. Josh, Justin and Jenny keep me busy. When I see things that remind me of Jason--places he liked to go or when I go somewhere and remember that he was alive the last time I went there--I cry. Most of the time we keep his music playing in his room and I go there and cry at least once a day. I keep his favorite shirt upstairs and sit and hold it and cry. I hold the last pair of pants that he wore--I haven't washed those yet and cry. The children don't like for me to cry. In the car, Josh enjoys playing a CD that Jason made with some favorite music. After Josh got out of the car, Jenny turned the music off--she said that it makes her sad. I thought that David wasn't crying--but on the 2nd day back to work he said he had to leave the restaurant where he and his co-workers were eating and go outside to cry. We don't see the kids crying.

This year some of the wonderful folks at David’s work are giving all the money to their chosen charity in memory of Jason. They are giving enough that David and I can both go on a cruise. It is so nice of them and it made me cry too--because I didn't want to reap any benefits from Jason's death---all I wanted was for him to get well and live. I had the number changed on Jason's phone today--his friends wouldn't have wanted us to call from that number. David turned off Jason's Instant Messenger--it hurt his friends too much to always see his IM up and if Josh got on the computer the IM would say "Jason has returned from away.” Jason's phone is Joshua's now--and that hurts in a way to think that Joshua got a phone because his brother died. Justin doesn't have to buy an X-box now--he plays Jason's and nobody sleeps on the $1000 mattress we got for Jason, but getting it was worth every penny as it eased his back pain for the short while he had it. I no longer have to rush home to check on Jason, or make sure to give him his medicine. I have more freedom now, but not the way I want. Our faith helps, knowing that he is in a better place and no longer suffering, but still the pain of his loss is immense. I know this hurt will never go away completely and we will always love and miss him until we join him.

Over the last days I watched all the home videos that I could find. Christmases, birthday parties, picnics, basketball games. Happy times of love and laughter--our family--3 dear little boys and a sweet little girl. Life was so good. We were so happy. I've have been reading a journal I wrote of his first five years and typing it on a computer. Perhaps I'll share some of that here. He was a wonderful son and I am so proud of him, the way he lived his life, the way he fought his battle with cancer and the way he faced death. We were so blessed to have known him—to have been his parents. If any of you who knew him personally want to take the time to type special memories and stories of Jason, and send them to our e-mail address (below) we would so appreciate it. He was pretty quiet around us and didn't confide in us.

I have talked to Katie and she says that she stays really busy and that staying busy is a good thing for her. We are so thankful that Jason had her in his life.

I keep reminding myself that Jason is no longer suffering. He is with Jesus, whom he trusted as Savior when he was only 4 years old. But he is not with us and I miss him terribly. I've been watched old home videos. Christmases, birthday parties, picnics, basketball games. Happy times of love and laughter--our family--3 dear little boys and a sweet little girl. I have been crying.

I remember last summer when Jason was given his death sentence by the doctors that he said, "It's okay if I die now, Mom. It will just mean that I am in heaven a few years before you." In tears, I said, "We'll miss you so much." Then I told him of how bitter my mother became when my 15 year old brother died in a car wreck in 1972. Jason said, "Mom, I don't won't you to be like that. I want to see you in heaven." Well, Jason is there in heaven now and heaven looks even sweeter to me--I want to see Jason again and he's there waiting for us.

Dear family and friends, all of those who have prayed for Jason these many months, Jason would say those same words to each one of you. He just wants to see you in heaven. It may be a few days or it may be a few years. Our time here on earth has no guarantees and the day will come when each of us must die. If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please come, believe that he died for your sins, and trust him to save you, and then, like Jason, you will have a hope that never perishes, no matter what happens here.

God bless each one as we all grieve the loss of dear sweet Jason who bore so much pain and suffering as he tried so hard to be strong (he was) and not to complain. Please also--cherish your family. Spend time with them. Take pictures. Hug your children tight and let them know that you love them. Don't stress over the small things. Life is too short.

Pray for Kevin Martin father of 5 children (I met his wife Linda at Vanderbilt)

Love in Christ,


Monday, September 5, 2005 5:50 PM CDT

Dear Friends,
Eric passed away this morning, Saturday, September 10 at 6:05AM. With his 10th birthday still 2 days away, he wouldn't open his presents early and now he is gone. Please pray for his family. www.caringbridge.org/mn/ericdakota/

God saw you getting tired
And a cure was not to be
So he put his arms around you
And whispered, come to Me
With tearful eyes we watched you suffer
And saw you fade away
Although we loved you dearly,
We could not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
Hard working hands to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He only takes THE BEST!
“The agony is great and yet I will stand it.
Had I not loved so very much, I would not hurt so much.
But goodness knows, I would not want
To diminish the precious love by one fraction.
I will hurt and I will be grateful for it.
For it bears witness to the depth of our meanings
And for that I will be eternally grateful.”
Homesick ~ by Mercy Me

You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbyes
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now
"I'll lend you for a little while a child of mine," God said, "For you to love while he lives, And mourn for when he dies.

It may be six or seventeen years, or twenty-two or three; But will you, til I call him back, take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you, or should his stay be brief, You'll have his lovely memories as solace of your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay, Since all from earth return. But there are lessons taught below I want this child to learn.

I've looked this wide world over, in my search for teachers true, And from the throngs that crowd lifes lanes I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love Nor think the labor vain, Nor hate me when I come to take this 'lent child back again."

I fancied that I heard them say: "Dear Lord thy will be done; For all the joys thy child shall bring the risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter him with tenderness; We'll love him while we may; And for the happiness we've known, Forever grateful stay.

But should the Angels call for him much sooner than we planned, We'll brave the bitter grief that comes, And try to understand."

I do not need a special day
To bring you to my mind
The days I do not think of you
Are very hard to find.

Each morning when I awake
I know that you are gone
No one knows the heartache
As I try to carry on.

My heart still aches with sadness,
And the secret tears still flow,
What it meant to lose you
No one will ever know.

My thoughts are always with you,
Your place no one can fill,
In life I loved you dearly,
In death I love you still.

There will always be a heartache,
And often a silent tear,
But always a precious memory
Of the days when you were here.

If tears could make a staircase,
And heartaches make a lane,
I’d walk the path to Heaven
And bring you home again.

I hold you close within my heart,
And there you will remain,
To walk with me throughout my life
Until we meet again.

Our family chain is broken now,
And nothing seems the same,
But as God calls us one by one
The chain will link again.

Love in Christ,

P.S. The problem with Jason's life insurance appears to have been resolved. I know that not everyone here knew that there had been a problem, but it is definitely an answer to prayer that we don't have to think about anymore. David told me yesterday and then I cried because I wish we had never had to come to a place where we needed to use his life insurance--it was only there to pay for a funeral. David apologized for upsetting me(because I cried), but tears aren't a bad thing--I think it would be very sad if no one cried about Jason. I like to be reminded of him. I like for people to speak of him. Please don't forget him.

Monday, September 5, 2005 5:41 PM CDT

I thought that I would tell my dear son's story here, even though now the struggle is over and he is no longer suffering and in pain. I feel that our suffering will not end until I see my son in heaven. Last Thursday on his dad's 50th birthday, my son passed away. He had been on hospice care for many months, but really didn't require much care until the last terrible week.

It all started in Dec 2003. He turned 18 just 9 days before Christmas. He was a senior in high school. He had always been so healthy. His brother was worried about him at Christmas, because he had been so tired and his chest had been hurting and he had been out of breath, but we didn't know any of that. He always downplayed any physical ailment and when he was hurt, he would say, "Don't worry, Mom, I'll be fine." His brother told asked his grandmother to talk to him about the symptoms and she was actually terrified when she heard that among other symptoms that he was having that he was having pain deep in his sternum. She told us to get him to a doctor as soon as we got home from her house 300 miles from ours. I took him to his pediatrician's office on 12/31/03 and the pediatrician did no tests and said, "It is just growing pain. He still has a lot of growing to do in his chest and I can almost guarantee that it is just growing pain." This pediatrician retired that day and I have never gotten to talk to him about what was really wrong with Jason. So in the first week of January I went ahead and took him to have his wisdom teeth taken out. He just never seemed to recover after that and became paler and paler and more and more tired. Around the third week of January 2004, I took Jason to his new doctor--a general practioner and he actually only saw a nurse practioner and when she heard the symptoms many tests were run. All of the tests were normal except for the blood tests which showed pancytopenia. This means that all the cells in his blood were low: low red blood cells, low white blood cells and low platelets. We returned the next week for a recheck of his blood and this time the counts were even lower. They set up an appointment for a couple of weeks later with a hematologist. I begged for a sooner appointment and that doctors office said that if I could get him there by 1:00 they could see him that very day. They did several tests, but the worst one and the most critical one was the bone marrow biopsy that they did in the office without putting him to sleep. It was so painful and only the first of many bone marrow biopsies that he would have done. He always said that it felt like a broken bone for days. We went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse that night, not knowing that our world had already started to change to something that we could never have imagined in our worst nightmares.

The next day while he was in classes, I got a call saying that he had leukemia and that we were to bring him to the hospital as a room was waiting for him. That was his last day of class ever. He was admitted to the hospital. The next day they had to do another bone marrow biopsy as the first one had been sent to labs all over the country as required by our insurance. By the end of that day (2/6/04) he had had many scans done and they still hadn't found the primary tumor. The new biospy showed that it was something much worse than leukemia. It was alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) with t(2,13) gene translocation. He was diagnosed on 2/6/04. He had a central line placed for chemotherapy to be given and received his first chemo that Friday. He threw up for days and lost 13 pounds. He was already so skinny--always had been thin. A PET scan on the following Monday showed that He had a tumor in his left foot that had spread to bone marrow (so it is stage 4) and the symptoms we noticed were due to the anemia he had. He spent 21 days in the hospital with the first hospitalization.

The doctors wouldn't even give us statistics. They just said that our child wasn't a statistic and advised us not to even look. I probably shouldn't have looked, but when I did I found that his chances were to live were less than 3%. Probably less. Some people say that if it is in bone marrow at diagnosis that there is no chance for recovery. Being 18, he was given choices to make about treatment. No treatment was a choice and he would have been gone very quickly. There was VAC (Vincristine-ActionmycinD-Cytoxan) or an even more intense treatment VACIME that was VAC with iphosfomide and etoposide with mesna. Jason chose VAC.

At the beginning there was a 100% replacement of all blood making elements with cancer cells in his bone marrow. On 4/9 there were no cancer cells in his bone marrow, but by 7/30 there were some cancer cells in fibrotic tissue in his bone marrow which the oncologists said were resistant cells and they considered it to be a relapse while on treatment (Vincristine-Actinomycin-Cytoxan). Chemo had to be changed. The oncologist said to all of us including Jason that there were 3 choices: 1) stop treatment- a viable option, he said; 2) cytoxan-topotecan 3) more intensive treatment with VAdrCIME which would involve more surgery to put in a different central IV line. Then the oncologist said, "No matter what you choose it will only prolong your life. There will be no cure for you." I hate it that he tried to take away all our hope. Jason really didn't want another surgery, and I was so thankful that he didn't want to just quit treatment. He chose the cytoxan-topotecan, but after the first day he just wanted to stop treatment as we were at the clinic for over 8 hours and he was nauseous. It was given in the clinic every day for 5 days with hydration and then a 2 week break and then repeated. He had a bone marrow biopsy and a PET scan done on 10/1/04 just to see the new chemo was working. After 2 treatments, the same doctor said that there is always hope and asked Jason he if he would continue treatment if the tests showed good results. The oncologist also said that our other children: Justin, 16; Josh, 13; and Jenny, 9 could come down with us to the clinic to have some blood drawn to see if any of them were a match for Jason for a bone marrow transplant just in case we ever wanted to consider this. It is considered experimental (and I found that it is not effective either) and our insurance would not pay for it, but many friends have offered to help raise the money if it is needed. The bone marrow transplant process just sounds so hard.

We just kept praying and praying and praying that God would heal Jason here on earth. I know that God can heal. He is able to do that with just a word. Nothing is impossible for God. Jason, himself though thought that he wouldn't make it. On the way home from the clinic one Friday he gently said, "Mom, it will be alright if I die now. It will just mean that I will get to heaven a few years before you all." My tears flowed as I tried to say, "But honey, we'll miss you so much." Jason did well through the chemo. Nausea was his worst problem. He had 23 days of radiation to his foot that ended on 6/18/04 and burned his foot badly and put him in a wheelchair for about a month. Yet just a few weeks after these terrible burns to his foot he went on the youth mission trip where they have Vacation Bible School for inner city kids. In August of 2004 he seemed to feel fine and if not for the bad bone marrow report at the end of July we would never have known that he had relapsed. We met 6 other families with children with rhabdomyosarcoma at the hospital where Jason was treated--4 from our own small town.

Jason stayed on a new chemo Cytoxan/topotecan until 12/1/04 when he said that he could no longer stand the side effects and quit the chemo 3 rounds early. The last big scans done on 11/17/04 were clear--there was no cancer. He had a couple of really good months. At Christmas he started dating Katie and he loved her. On Feb. 7, 2005 he noticed a lump in his arm and then another one on his chest. This was the same cancer. A 6 week clinical trial of antiangiogenesis drugs was ineffective and the cancer continued to grow. He took an oral chemotherapy called etoposide at home and was on hospice for the last months of his life. He enjoyed the summer, taking a beach trip and then a family vacation. We prayed so hard for earthly healing. We miss him so much now.

Saturday, August 27, 2005 0:59 AM CDT

A Note From Katie

Thank you all that have been praying for Jason over the past year and a half. Your thoughts and prayers have meant the world to both myself and Jason's family. This has not been an easy time for any of us, but your knowledge of our situation and continued prayers bring comfort to even our darkest days.

I loved Jason from the moment I met him and I know he's smiling down on each of us thanking each of us for getting him to the place he belongs.

God Bless,
Katie (Proud to have loved Jason) Kealdrid@samford.edu
(I thought Katie would want this to be here on the front page--so no one would miss it)--Pam

A message from Katie's mom
Dear Pam and David, the entire Archer Family and everyone that has been signing this page,
I am Katie's mom and a very proud mom. I want to thank all of you for thinking about and loving my Katie. I know that Katie meant so much to Jason and was an important part of his life. But I want you to all know that it was not a one way street. Jason meant just as much to Katie and gave her as much as she gave him. He accepted her unconditionally--no makeup, hair a mess, bad mood-- he gave her uncondtional love. He even went shopping for clothes at the mall with her!! (all guys just love that!) He brought so many smiles to her face and I know that those smiles will continue as she remembers him in the days,weeks and years to come. I'll be honest.. I did worry about her when she entered into this relationship because I did not want her hurt. I soon realized that even though the outcome, without a miracle, would just break my child's heart ...the journey, the love, the laughs and the knowledge that someone as wonderful as Jason would chose her to spend the little time he had left on this earth with was worth it. She is a better person for knowing and loving Jason and for that I will always be greatful to him. And to Jason, thank you for all you did for my Katie and I know that you are one of the guardian angels that God has given her to help her through the years to come! May God Bless us all!

Much Love,
Carolyn Aldridge

Thank you, Carolyn. Words are inadequate. Spending time with Katie made the last months his life joyful.

Jason's Obituary

Archer, Jason David-Age 19, of Hendersonville, passed away and was received into the arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ at 1pm. He had fought a long and difficult 18 months battle with a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. He was the beloved son of David and Pam Archer of Hendersonville. He is survived by his parents, his brothers, Justin and Joshua and his sister Jenny, all of Hendersonville, his grandparents, Robert and Connie Archer of Kingsport, TN and Charles and Mary Ingram of Unicoi, TN, his aunts and uncles and many cousins. He will be greatly missed by all his family and friends. He was born on 12/16/85 in Kingsport, TN, moving to Hendersonville in 1996. He accepted Christ as his Savior at the tender age of 4 and never wavered in his faith. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Hendersonville. He worked as a computer tech at Centennial Medical Center up until he became ill. He enjoyed playing video and computer games, reading, and hanging out with his friends. He was a 2004 honors graduate of Heritage Christian Academy of Mt. Juliet. Prevented from going to college by chemotherapy in the fall of 2004 and always trying to stay hopeful, he had registered and planned to begin classes at Volunteer State College next week. Please send condolences to Jason’s website at www.caringbridge.org/tn/jasona/. Visitation will be 10am til 1pm and Funeral services will be 2pm, Saturday, August 27, 2005 at Hendersonville First Baptist Church with Rev. Brady Cooper and Dr. Glenn Weekly officiating. Following the services he will be taken to Henline Hughes Funeral Home in Bakersville, NC. The family will receive friends from 6pm til 8pm, Sunday, August 28, 2005 at Middle District Free Will Baptist Church. Graveside services will be conducted 11am, Monday, August 29, 2005 at Troutman Cemetery in Buladean, NC. Family and friends will serve as pallbearers. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jason’s memory to: Rhabdomyosarcoma research-the rare cancers receive little financial help. http://survivor-support.rare cancer.org/rhabdomyosarcoma-research-donations.html Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, C/O Dr. Frederick Barr MD,PHD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 505C Stellar Chance Laboratory, 422 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6082 or Gideons International who provide Bibles.

Thank you for remembering us in prayer. We miss him. He had suffered so much.

In Christ,

Saturday, August 27, 2005 0:59 AM CDT

A Note From Katie

Thank you all that have been praying for Jason over the past year and a half. Your thoughts and prayers have meant the world to both myself and Jason's family. This has not been an easy time for any of us, but your knowledge of our situation and continued prayers bring comfort to even our darkest days.

I loved Jason from the moment I met him and I know he's smiling down on each of us thanking each of us for getting him to the place he belongs.

God Bless,
Katie (Proud to have loved Jason) Kealdrid@samford.edu
(I thought Katie would want this to be here on the front page--so no one would miss it)--Pam

A message from Katie's mom
Dear Pam and David, the entire Archer Family and everyone that has been signing this page,
I am Katie's mom and a very proud mom. I want to thank all of you for thinking about and loving my Katie. I know that Katie meant so much to Jason and was an important part of his life. But I want you to all know that it was not a one way street. Jason meant just as much to Katie and gave her as much as she gave him. He accepted her unconditionally--no makeup, hair a mess, bad mood-- he gave her uncondtional love. He even went shopping for clothes at the mall with her!! (all guys just love that!) He brought so many smiles to her face and I know that those smiles will continue as she remembers him in the days,weeks and years to come. I'll be honest.. I did worry about her when she entered into this relationship because I did not want her hurt. I soon realized that even though the outcome, without a miracle, would just break my child's heart ...the journey, the love, the laughs and the knowledge that someone as wonderful as Jason would chose her to spend the little time he had left on this earth with was worth it. She is a better person for knowing and loving Jason and for that I will always be greatful to him. And to Jason, thank you for all you did for my Katie and I know that you are one of the guardian angels that God has given her to help her through the years to come! May God Bless us all!

Much Love,
Carolyn Aldridge

Thank you, Carolyn. Words are inadequate. Spending time with Katie made the last months his life joyful.

Jason's Obituary

Archer, Jason David-Age 19, of Hendersonville, passed away and was received into the arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ at 1pm. He had fought a long and difficult 18 months battle with a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. He was the beloved son of David and Pam Archer of Hendersonville. He is survived by his parents, his brothers, Justin and Joshua and his sister Jenny, all of Hendersonville, his grandparents, Robert and Connie Archer of Kingsport, TN and Charles and Mary Ingram of Unicoi, TN, his aunts and uncles and many cousins. He will be greatly missed by all his family and friends. He was born on 12/16/85 in Kingsport, TN, moving to Hendersonville in 1996. He accepted Christ as his Savior at the tender age of 4 and never wavered in his faith. He was a member of the First Baptist Church in Hendersonville. He worked as a computer tech at Centennial Medical Center up until he became ill. He enjoyed playing video and computer games, reading, and hanging out with his friends. He was a 2004 honors graduate of Heritage Christian Academy of Mt. Juliet. Prevented from going to college by chemotherapy in the fall of 2004 and always trying to stay hopeful, he had registered and planned to begin classes at Volunteer State College next week. Please send condolences to Jason’s website at www.caringbridge.org/tn/jasona/. Visitation will be 10am til 1pm and Funeral services will be 2pm, Saturday, August 27, 2005 at Hendersonville First Baptist Church with Rev. Brady Cooper and Dr. Glenn Weekly officiating. Following the services he will be taken to Henline Hughes Funeral Home in Bakersville, NC. The family will receive friends from 6pm til 8pm, Sunday, August 28, 2005 at Middle District Free Will Baptist Church. Graveside services will be conducted 11am, Monday, August 29, 2005 at Troutman Cemetery in Buladean, NC. Family and friends will serve as pallbearers. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Jason’s memory to: Rhabdomyosarcoma research-the rare cancers receive little financial help. http://survivor-support.rare cancer.org/rhabdomyosarcoma-research-donations.html Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, C/O Dr. Frederick Barr MD,PHD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 505C Stellar Chance Laboratory, 422 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6082 or Gideons International who provide Bibles.

Thank you for remembering us in prayer. We miss him. He had suffered so much.

In Christ,

Friday, August 26, 2005 1:22 PM CDT

We have made the arrangements for Jason.

It was difficult, because I had wanted to bury him near us so that I could go often to his grave, but many, many friends and especially many older relatives just could not make the trip here. Even his grandfather could not have come if we had buried Jason here. I thought that if I want to I can go and grieve for Jason at the cemetery where Connor Hunley is buried http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/connorhunley/ . I'm sure that Connor's mother wouldn't mind if I come and cry for both Connor and Jason. They had the same cancer.

Visitation will be on Saturday at First Baptist Church Hendersonville, TN from 10-1. There will be a memorial service afterwards at 2PM. Brother Glenn and Brady Cooper will conduct the service.

Jason's body will be taken East to be buried in the family cemetery in Buladean, NC. There will be a visitation and funeral service on Sunday evening from 6 to 8 at Middle District Freewill Baptist Church with Bud Phillips conducting the service. Burial will be Monday at 11 AM at the Troutman Cemetery where his great grand parents, and many other relatives are buried.

I will post Jason's funeral announcement tomorrow.

I keep reminding myself that Jason is no longer suffering. He is with Jesus, whom he trusted as Savior when he was only 4 years old. He is not with us. I feel numb--just going through the motions-mechanically--most of the time, except when I say the words, "he is gone." and then I cry.

I remember last summer when he was given his death sentence by the doctors that he said, "It's okay if I die now, Mom. It will just mean that I am in heaven a few years before you." I told him of how bitter my mother became when my 15 year old brother died in a car wreck in 1972. Jason said, "Mom, I don't won't you to be like that. I want to see you in heaven."

Dear family and friends, all of those who have prayed for Jason these many months, Jason would say those same words to each one of you-and he just wants to see you in heaven, whether it is a few days or a few years. Our time here on earth has no guarantees and the day will come when each of us must die here, unless the Lord returns soon. If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please come, believe that he died for your sins, and trust him to save you, and then, like Jason, you will have a hope that never perishes, no matter what happens in this world.

God bless each one as we all grieve the loss of dear sweet Jason who bore so much pain and suffering as he tried so hard to be strong (he was) and not to complain.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, August 25, 2005 11:44 PM CDT

Dear Friends,

Jason passed away and was received into the arms of His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at 1:05PM. He was surrounded by his dad and mom and brothers and sister. We are so thankful for the priviledge we had of being his parents and in his passing, we are sad beyond words. We had so many hopes and dreams for him.

Arrangements are incomplete at this time, but I will post as soon as I know--before noon tomorrow.

Thank you for traveling this journey with us and your many, many prayers. God bless each one of you and praying that none of you ever suffer such a loss.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, August 25, 2005 7:42 AM CDT

Dear Friends,

Thank you for praying for Jason.

I just wanted to let you know how he is today. He has never really woken up since he went to bed at 2:00AM August 24. When he lay down at that time he was dizzy and had a headache. It has been more than 29 hours ago. Yesterday he would open his eyes and speak, usually incoherent words and answers like "Yes" or "No." He was aware enough at one point, that he asked his dad, "Am I going to die?" and then just as quickly he was out again. He is even less responsive today and he doesn't open his eyes, but he does not seem to be struggling or thrashing or in pain. He has had nothing to eat or drink in all this time, of course and he is not on IV solutions. He seems to be running a fever. I have kept a cool washcloth on this forehead since 5:40 this morning. Two hospice workers came by to see him yesterday. Today, one of the hospice doctors will come. There has been no suggestion to take him to the emergency room or anywhere.

In Christ,

Dear Heavenly Father,
Please show yourself mighty in Jason's life. We know that You are the Great Physician and You can heal Jason even now. Please place Your healing hand on Jason and remove this cancer completely from his body, every single cell. Please don't let him feel pain. Oh, Lord, please increase Jason's blood counts. Please allow him to wake up, without pain, without fever. Please be with Jason and comfort him and take away any anxiety he feels. Lord, we know that nothing is impossible with you. Please heal Jason and may you be glorified. We trust in you and know that you are in complete control of Jason's life. We praise your Holy Name for your mercy, your grace, and your goodness.
In Christ's name,

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 1:35 AM CDT

Wednesday, August 24, 2005 7:00PM
The hospice nurse came and tried to wake Jason. He wiped a wet washcloth over his face. Jason opened his eyes with a blank stare for a few seconds, but then closed them. He didn't talk to us. His lips are dry and peeling. The nurse used a special swab to wet them and put chapstick on his lips and that didn't wake him. We tried over and over to wake him and it was always the same. His blood pressure was okay, but his heart rate was 140. The nurse would not take a sample of blood. If we make it to the doctor's appointment on Friday, perhaps he can have blood counts done. At this moment things look bad. I am very sad to think that he might not wake up again here on earth. This nurse had never seen Jason before and has no explanation for what is happening, but this change is so drastic and so sudden, I don't think anyone can explain it. He thought that it was probably the increase in pain medicines over the last few days causing this, and if it is perhaps he will wake up when they wear off. We are to try to wake Jason up every hour. We have been doing this, but he still hasn't said anything coherent. He is moving around more. He acts like he is hurting when I try to wake him, but he hasn't sat up to take more pain medicine. We don't have IV pain medicine to give him. Please pray that he will wake up, drink some water (his lips are so dry and I'm sure his mouth is, too) and take his time release pain medicine. At least, for most of the day he wasn't in pain. He had been in so much pain for the last 3 days.

Thank you for caring, and for suffering through this with us and for praying for my precious son.

Dear Friends,
August 24,2005 11:25 AM
Thank you all for praying.

I just thought I would let you know that Jason finally went to sleep. It was around 2 AM. I was supposed to wake him at 5:15AM to give him more of the time release pain medicine, but I slept until 6:30. Jason was sleeping when I woke up. David told me not to wake Jason-that he needs his sleep. It has been a long time since he has had a good night's sleep. More time has passed and I have tried to wake Jason several times to give him the pain medicine and just can't rouse him. He is making noises, almost like groans, as he breathes. I am concerned that he will be hurting when he wakes up. (Praying that he will wake up, eventually) Pray with me that he is just catching up on the missed sleep and that he will awaken refreshed and not in pain. I had wanted to have blood counts done in the clinic today to see if he needs a transfusion which would take hours and hours. He is sleeping so soundly. Yes, it is definitely an answer to prayer that he is sleeping and not sitting up being miserable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005 1:35AM
I had to call hospice and have someone come out today. She didn't really even look at Jason or check his pulse or blood pressure. He was in bed and she didn't want to disturb him. I don't think that he was really asleep, as he hasn't been able to get good sleep for days. She looked at my record of pain medicines he has had to take to try to stop this pain. After that she talked to one of the doctors at hospice who told her that we need to increase his time release pain medicines from one 60 mg capsule at bedtime to two 60 mg capsules twice a day. That is how bad his pain is -he needs four times as much pain medicine. The nurse called it a pain crisis and said that sometimes it subsides and pain medicines can be reduced later. We were running out of pain medicine and she reordered it and it was delivered today. His knees and now both ankles are hurting a lot. He is miserable. He has a headache. When he stands up, his head hurts worse. His head hurts less when he sits quietly in his computer chair. He is dizzy. His legs hurt more when he gets up after laying down for a while. So all he has done today is sit at his computer. He hasn't slept well in so long that he keeps nodding off. His feet are swollen and feel cold. So we wonder if it is just because he has had to sit all day or is there a tumor blocking blood flow. He is nauseous. He hasn't eaten anything today, but he did drink fruit juices, soda and water. After he walked to the bathroom I checked his blood pressure and pulse and it was 155/82 and his pulse was 142. Later, after he sat a while it was 109/77 with a pulse rate of 112. His pulse has always been around 60 at rest. Could his anemia be so bad that he just isn't getting enough oxygen? Or is it the stress and the pain causing the high blood pressure and heart rate. I wonder if I should just take him in to the clinic to have counts checked and if they are very low he could get a transfusion.

He just took some pain medication and is lying down in bed to try to sleep. Please pray for him. Pray that God would relief the pain so that he can rest and pray that God would give Jason more good days. He wants so much to go to Birmingham to a concert with Katie on September 16. He was hurting so much today that he is just hoping that he can see her again. It is so hard watching him suffer and not knowing what to do or what to say to him and to not be able to stop the pain or stop this cancer. We continue to pray for complete healing-yet with what is happening we can't help but wonder what is happening.......

In Christ,

SEPTEMBER IS CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. Research for childhood cancer is so very underfunded. I'm hoping to host an Alex's Lemonade Stand- http://www.alexslemonade.com/ (copy and paste)in September if I can find a good location. I don't know now if this will be possible since Jason is feeling worse. Alex's father said that funds from stands could be designated to be sent for research for a specific childhood cancer. If I get to do this I hope the money can go to Dr. Barr, who is researching rhabdomyosarcoma.

Please continue to keep Eric and his family in your prayers. Eric will soon be 10. His chemotherapy has been stopped and his tumors are growing. He has the same kind of cancer that Jason has. http://www1.caringbridge.org/mn/ericdakota/

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for stopping by to check on Jason. We so desperately need your prayers.

We got back from our trip to East Tennesse on Sunday. Justin was fine here at home, but I so wish that he could have gone with us. It was a hard trip for Jason. He didn't sleep well. He felt bad. He has noticed 2 new tumors growing.

His chemo break started on Saturday. He is having the same symptoms that he had last time he had a break, only worse. He was in intense pain when he woke up this morning. He was aching all over and later it was just his knees. He said that this is the worst pain he has ever had in his life. I called hospice to ask what to do to help him and they told me to give him more pain medicine. It has been a very difficult day. With a lot of pain medicine, his pain was finally controlled. He dreads going to sleep, but I will stay up late enough to give him some pain medicine at 2:30AM and David will give him more at 6:30 or 7:00 It is when he first wakes up that he hurts the most, but today the pain just wouldn't go away. He lay down to sleep, but didn't rest very well. His legs began hurting again and so he is up at his computer now. I have given him more pain medicine twice and his legs are still hurting and he can't get to sleep. I'm going to sleep downstairs on the couch so that I can hear him call if he needs me.

Jason has mentioned wanting to talk to his oncologist. He wonders if he could have scans done or change to a different oral chemo. I e-mailed his oncologist and told her the current situation and she e-mailed back and said that she could see Jason this Friday. In her e-mail she said, "I do not think that there are additional options for palliaton or treatment. I think the most important goal is to make Jason feel comfortable and have adequately controlled pain. We can talk more about this on Friday." The one thing Jason said that he doesn't want to do now is to quit chemo. Please--please pray that this isn't the end of treatment for him. Please pray for increased blood counts. He can't have chemo if his blood counts remain low. Without the chemo it seems that things are much worse.

Jason's college classes are supposed to start next Tuesday. He wants to go, but kind of dreads it?? but says that he can't go if he is hurting as much as he did today. He also wants to go to a concert in Birmingham with Katie on September 16 and has been concerned about how he will get there. David will take off work if he needs to drive Jason there or Jason could fly down. It is a 45 minute flight.

Just wanted to let you know that there is no change in the X-ray of Justin's bone--so the doctor says that it is the non-ossifying fibroma--not something bad. We praise the Lord for this. Josh will have the ultrasound of his abdomen done this Thursday, to check to see if his liver is enlarged and the appointment with the dermatologist who will look at his moles is Sept. 1.

We have all prayed so hard. We continue to pray for complete earthly healing for Jason. The healing hand of God is our only hope for Jason. The doctors give us no hope for a cure. I know that God can heal him--I know He can.

Thank you so much for lifting Jason and our family up in prayer. It means so much to us. God bless each one of you who stops by to check on Jason and pray for him.

In Christ,

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 2:35 AM CDT

Friday, August 19, 2005 -- Dear Family and Friends, We are leaving for East Tennessee to visit with the grandparents this weekend. We will return Sunday night. It is just a quick trip before school starts. Jason's counts were had dropped lower this week, Platelets dropped from 123,000 to 113,000; White blood cells dropped from 4.0 to 2.6; Hematocrit dropped from 30 to 27. Please pray for increased counts and that on this week break from chemo that he won't start having all those symptoms that he had last time he was off chemo for a week--aching all over, limping, pain across his chest, headache,etc. He seems to relate it to being off chemo. Those of you in East Tennesse--we wish we could see you. We won't have much time up there on this trip. Justin couldn't get off work and has to stay here at a friend's house--but he wants to sleep over at other friend's house. Pray that he will be safe this weekend. Thank you for praying.

SEPTEMBER IS CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH. Research for childhood cancer is so very underfunded. I'm hoping to host an Alex's Lemonade Stand- http://www.alexslemonade.com/ (copy and paste)in September if I can find a good location. Alex's father said that funds from stands could be designated to be sent for research for a specific childhood cancer. If I get to do this I hope the money can go to Dr. Barr, who is researching rhabdomyosarcoma.

Please continue to keep Eric and his family in your prayers. Eric will soon be 10. His chemotherapy has been stopped and his tumors are growing. He has the same kind of cancer that Jason has. http://www1.caringbridge.org/mn/ericdakota/

Hi Everyone,
It has been almost 2 weeks since I updated the journal. I know that you all are still praying for Jason. Thank you so much for your prayers. It means so much to us to know that you are praying.

Forgive me for not writing much lately. I just haven't felt up to it. Jason is doing okay. There are little things that are happening that are worrisome. Everytime he tells me something new - I just feel sick over it and don't know what to do as I can't make the problems go away and I don't know what they mean. There have been issues like a headache all day on Friday a week ago (he sat in his room all day long, at the computer, no music and not able to get relief from the pain) and that was followed a few days later by stomach problems. His blood counts done last Wednesday were pretty good (Praise the Lord)with WBC of 5.0, ANC of 4,200, (both increased and in the normal range) but platelets dropped to 123,000 and hematocrit dropped from 32 to 30 and those are both below normal, but then he is on oral chemo. Pray that the hematocrit and platelets would come up again. He told me on Saturday that he has noticed another lump--a small one in the muscle above his left knee--a reminder that his cancer is progressing, that we don't know what else is happening internally and that we don't know a way to stop it. It doesn't hurt and it hasn't turned red like the other lumps. Tonight he told me that the area on his chin under his lip on the right side is numb and has been for about 2 weeks, but he says it doesn't bother him. I have no idea what could be causing this. His face seems slightly swollen--I'm thinking from the Decadron - a steroid--the dose was increased when all his joints and his knee were hurting a few weeks ago. We've been trying to taper the dose and decrease it. Kristen comes to do blood counts on Wednesday. For now he is still on the chemo. This Friday will be the end of another 3 weeks, so he is supposed to get a one week break--which is scary. Please pray that his counts will be good and about all these "little" issues that could be important. We just have to keep praying.

He is supposed to start college the week of 8/29. David signed him up for a few classes. The classes he wanted most were already full. In the disability office this
week at the college where he is to go (Vol State), he spoke of transferring to MTSU in the fall a year from now. How hard it is right now for me to even think a month (or a week) in advance, let alone a year. I wish there was somewhere we could take Jason so that he could be well again. I am very sad. We are trying to just live day by day the best we can, but it is hard. We continue to pray for complete earthly healing for Jason. The healing hand of God is our only hope for Jason. The doctors give us no hope for a cure.

Jason and Katie spent as much time together this week as they could, but she was very busy getting ready to leave and spending time with family and friends. Katie left for college early this morning. Jason won't get to see her until the end of September when he plans on driving down to Birmingham to go to a concert with her.

Justin goes back to the doctor for the repeat X-ray tomorrow. Josh has had 2 blood tests and there is a concern over elevated liver enzymes. He has to have an ultrasound of his abdomen to check and see if his liver is enlarged (don't have a date yet). I have also scheduled an appointment for Josh to go to a dermatologist to have his moles checked--some are large with irregular borders--this is on September 1st.

It has been very, very dry here in Middle Tennessee. David moves a sprinkler around every evening to try to keep the grass from dying. Some places near us have gotten downpours, but it has completely missed us. I haven't been praying for rain or anything else much except the important things (health for all in our family and salvation for those we love). Everything else seems so trivial to what I pray for constantly which is for God to heal Jason. A few drops of rain fell as I was driving home yesterday afternoon and I did finally pray for rain. I prayed for not just a little, not just those few drops, but a lot of rain. You know what--God did give us rain--buckets and buckets of rain and then it rained again today. What does that mean? We have all prayed so hard for Jason to be healed. I know that God can heal him--I know He can.

I just can't thank you enough for your prayers for Jason. How could we make it through each day without your prayers and support and the Lord's continual presence.

In Christ,

Thursday, August 4, 2005 3:34 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,
Thank you all for your prayers and the the messages you have left here. It means the world to us. It is amazing how many messages there are and how many times his page has been visited. Words are inadequate to express our appreciation for your kindness and your prayers. I wish I could go through and answer personally send a thank you e-mail to each and every person who has left a message. One of these days, I'll try to do that. Thank you all so much.

We finally got Jason's repeat blood counts back. I am very thankful to report that the hemoglobin was 10, the hematocrit was 32, the platelets were 131,000, the white blood cells were 3.4 and the automated neutraphil count was 2,626. All, except the neutraphil count, are a little below the normal range, but slightly improved from the last believable counts on Friday a week ago. For now he can continue on this chemotherapy. From now on when she gets his blood the lab at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital will do the testing and I like that better. His port did good again yesterday, so we are thanking God for that also.

A friend spent the night last night and slept on the tiny loveseat in Jason's room, that Jason wanted small so people wouldn't sleep on it. Jason really wants to have his room to himself at night so that he can really sleep with no noise, nothing to disturb his sleep, but he won't express that to his friends. There are so many other options--right now there are 5 couches and a mattress where they can sleep. I feel that it is so important for Jason to get a good night's sleep (or day's sleep-as he doesn't often go to bed before 4 or 5 AM and sometimes later).

Jason's friend is still here. Tonight, I am afraid he is keeping my Josh awake. This week, I am keeping the children of our friends for 3 days, as their grandmother is recovering from knee surgery and can't keep them. Their daughter is one of my Jenny's best friends and their son is a year younger than Josh. They are the nicest kids. I have really enjoyed having them here and Josh and Jenny have been thrilled. The thing is--they get here at 7:30 each morning. So Josh and Jenny (and me) need to get to bed early and sleep well. It has been a good week for them, having friends over all day. Tuesday the girls had a lemonade stand and made $11.00. Wednesday I took them all to the pool. Tomorrow, we may go to the park and feed ducks and then the playground.

It is hard to leave Jason. He doesn't ask for much, except for food usually after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, but I want to be here just in case he needs me. David has been trying so hard on his own to help the other kids have fun, taking them to movies or the pool and think about something other than their brother's sickness.

Katie came for a while tonight. Everyone just left Jason and Katie alone while they watched a movie. It is only 2 weeks until she has to leave for college. She has to leave a little early because she got a job as an RA (resident assistant). Since she got the RA job she was happy to be able to quit her job at the UPS store. I haven't seen her much this week.

Jason seemed tired and irritable tonight when I went in his room. I think he didn't get enough sleep last night, but he just wouldn't tell me how he is feeling. He just wanted me to leave his room. He has already gone to bed, which is very early for him. He doesn't like me asking questions.

We just don't know what will happen from day to day, but we know that God is in control and that He loves us and has a plan in all that happens. We continue to pray for Jason to be healed here on earth. We are thankful for each day we have together. There are no guarantees in this life for any of us, but all in my family have trusted Christ as Saviour and so we have the sure hope of eternal life and a home in heaven--a much better place to be.

The healing hand of God is our only hope for Jason. The doctors give us no hope. This is not curative chemotherapy they say.

I just can't thank you enough for your prayers for Jason. How could we make it through each day without your prayers and support and the Lord's continual presence.

In Christ,

Sunday, July 31, 2005 3:20 AM CDT

Dear Friends,

Please pray for the family of Sadie Grace Cushman. They go to our church. Sadie was only about 2 years old--born perfectly healthy, but had seizures when she was days old and these caused brain damage. Sadie went to be with Jesus this weekend. Now she can run and play like all the other children.
Her website: http://www3.caringbridge.org/tn/sadiegrace/

Thank you so much for your concern and prayers for Jason. Thank you for stopping by here to check on him. It means so much to us to know that you are praying for him. I feel it is because of your prayers and God answering them that Jason is still here with us and that he has been able to enjoy life these past 18 months despite a diagnosis of terminal cancer. We are so very thankful for this time we have with him. We continue to pray for Jason's complete healing here on earth, knowing that God can heal him in an instant. So we pray for miraculous healing and that God would be glorified.

Jason has been experiencing new symptoms that are worrisome. He is not one to complain, so it is a major thing when he says something is bothering him. Last week Jason told me that he has been experiencing episodes of chest pain that is difficult for him to describe lasting for 5 to 10 minutes. This doesn't happen every day. This week he told us that his knees have been hurting a lot when he first gets out of bed making it difficult for him to walk. Today he said that all his joints are aching and his neck is hurting and that he has been feeling bad all day. Late Saturday night he could barely walk up the stairs and I could tell that his knee was hurting him a lot. He said that it was his left knee and it hurt so much that he couldn't get to sleep. He has had a break from his oral chemotherapy for the past week and is starting on it again today. We don't know what his blood counts are. The hospice nurse told us the lab wouldn't have results until this morning, but we didn't hear from her and so we assume that this counts are okay and have given him his chemotherapy tablets tonight. With all these symptoms he is having, Jason talks of increasing the dose of chemotherapy on his own, but I know that isn't something that should be done without a doctor's approval since he is taking the correct dose already. We honestly don't know what is going on with all these aches and pains. The hospice nurse says that the joint aches could be arthritis and the chest pain could have been stress related due to the heat. We are very concerned, of course, that it is this awful aggressive cancer spreading rapidly and that his time is growing short. Please pray especially about this.
Thank you so much for your prayers--and please keep praying. Jason said that his knee felt some better today-Sunday. He is was still limping, but didn't seem to be in as much pain.
The hospice nurse just called today (Monday) and said that she will come out tomorrow to draw blood to do a repeat on his counts at a different lab as the hemoglobin on Friday was 8.8 which was unbelievably low. She said that it was so low that he shouldn't even be able to walk around. I'm concerned now that anemia may be the reason for his severe joint pain on Saturday when he said he was hurting all over Please pray that his counts are better than Fridays--that it was a mistake by the lab, because if his counts are that low it may mean the end of all treatment and the beginning of blood transfusions and little time.
UPDATE FOR MONDAY August 1, 2005
Jason wanted me to call and find out what all his counts were. When the hospice nurse called back I learned that the counts were not 8.8 hemoglobin, but 0.88 hemoglogin, 1 for white blood cells and 46,000 for platelets. All of these are very, very low, especially the hemoglobin. Someone with a hemoglobin of 0.88 would be nearly dead--unable to get out of bed--would not be getting enough oxygen for life. Anemia is a lower than normal number of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the blood, usually measured by a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the red pigment in red blood cells that transports oxygen. Anemia can have many causes. For Jason low counts were the first sign of rhabdomyosarcoma (cancer) in his bone marrow. Normal hemoglobin Male: 13.8 to 17.2 gm/dl. Jason's hemoglobin counts have been hovering around 10 lately.

Somehow knowing that the hemoglobin count was 0.88 makes me feel somewhat better, because it simply has to be a mistake. With Jason starting on chemo the next day, the lab has an obligation to let hospice know his counts. They didn't. From now on hospice will take his blood to Vanderbilt to be tested. Hopefully we should find out what his counts really are tomorrow afternoon. We pray that they are good. Having blood counts high enough is absolutely critical for Jason to continue on chemo. If his counts drop and don't come up they will assume that this chemo is no longer effective and that cancer is taking over his bone marrow again and will stop this chemo. Jason's doctors truly expect that this is inevitable. They don't plan any more bone marrow biopsies, since they don't plan more strong IV chemo. In fact, there are few options left after this chemo--etoposide. There are just a few drugs left that are standard for this type of cancer and only 2 of those are oral--topotecan and cytoxan--and he has been on those before, so I don't know if they would let him try those.

I asked him about his painful joints and his knees hurting tonight and he said that he is okay today. On Saturday night when he was hurting so much he said that he laid on his bed praying for a long time and was finally able to get to sleep. When he woke up he wasn't hurting as bad and hasn't since. I did increase his Decadron (drug for inflamation) from 4 to 8 mg.
Update for Tuesday, August 2, 2006
The hospice nurse came and drew blood today for the repeat counts. We are thankful that his port worked fine. No one called all day to tell us what the counts were, so hopefully we will learn tomorrow. He did not seem to be having joint pain today. His Decadron dose is to be gradually cut back down to 4 mg this week as Motrin is added --if it is inflamation causing his pain. He is still up, though it is very late. He has company and they went out to Walmart and McDonald's very late. He had one of those episodes with the chest pain while he was at Walmart. I just wonder what it could mean. The hospice nurse has noticed a heart murmur, that no one had ever noticed before. She said that he might always have had it, but it was detected before.

The healing hand of God is our only hope for Jason. The doctors give us no hope. This is not curative chemotherapy they say.

I just can't thank you enough for your prayers for Jason. How could we make it through each day without your prayers and support and the Lord's continual presence.

Jason has decided to try to go to Volunteer State, the local community college. It is only 15 minutes away from us. Classes start on August 29. He hasn't decided which classes to take yet. Many of his friends, including Katie, will be leaving for college again around August 16. This is the second year he has had to watch all them leave, while he stays here at home. I know that he wishes he could just live his life, get away from home, be on his own and all, but I wouldn't want him to be far away right now.

Thank you once again for praying for us and for our dear Jason. I love him so much and we do so desperately need your prayers.

Saturday, July 23, 2005 9:59 AM CDT

Hi everyone,
Thank you so much for your visit here to stop by to check on Jason and for your faithfulness in praying for him.

Yesterday we got back from our trip to Lake Cumberland and Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. It was hot and humid with at least one rain shower each day. Mostly we all just rested a lot, watched TV, played card games, and there was a pool table downstairs. We did go to the pool several times. Jason and Katie came down to the pool once after it had cooled down a lot. One day we drove over to see Cumberland Falls. It was nice that it was a just short walk to the falls. They were impressive. We had hoped to see the famous moonbow and we started over there on the right night and at the right time, but clouds and lightning increased as we drove so we turned around.

Katie went with us. Because Katie came, Jason enjoyed the trip--just getting to spend time with her. We were very thankful that she could come and also enjoyed getting to know her better. It goes without saying, but she is a very sweet girl and a pleasure to be around. She even got along with Justin, whose eyebrow has healed from his skateboarding accident.

We have learned that Jason will not be able to go to MTSU as he had hoped and planned on all summer. The off-campus housing that he and a friend had spoken of just will not work out. Jason thinks that living in a dorm room would not be the best for him and I have to agree. I wish that his hopes and dreams had worked out, but I had my doubts about sending him there where I couldn't monitor his medicines or his diet. Although it is only one hour away that is quite a distance considering his health. David and Jason are set to go to orientation down there on Monday and Tuesday of this week, but now I'm unsure of what to do about that. He was very, very disappointed that the housing plans fell through. He won't mention it again. He will just put it inside and deal with it the way he always does. If I mention it, he will say, "Mom, just drop it."I feel terrible for my part in not checking with the friend's parents so that Jason got his hopes up and then the friend had to break this news to him. We aren't sure why Jason wants to try to go to college right now. It seems like even a light load of classes would be so stressful on him. Volunteer State Community College is only 15 minutes from us. That is where we had planned on sending him for the first year of college before he was sick. Perhaps if he really wants to go to college, he could take a few classes there.

Sunday, July 24, 2005 1:13AM
Thank you for your prayers for Jason about the college situation. As I really expected, the initial shock has subsided, and Jason has adjusted to the disappointment. I searched for apartments on the internet so that he could choose MTSU if he wanted and found two excellent ones (I thought) at http://www.campuscrossings.com/details.html and http://www2.collegeparkweb.com/ws/flash/property.asp?PropID=CH0111&Flash=false" both having free shuttles to campus, high speed internet and pools as well as many other amenities, with common areas shared with 3 or 4 others students that he wouldn't know. He hasn't looked at what I found, but has decided on his own that Vol State would be the best for now.

Jason seems more tired. His back still continues to hurt in that one spot near his left shoulder blade. He tries hard not to let on, but it seemed to hurt more this week. He tries to be tough and he is. He doesn't complain. He refuses to increase his pain medication because of the side effect of constipation which is always a problem for him now. As far as I can tell his left foot is not hurting that I had mentioned before. The chemotherapy causes him to feel nauseous off and on throughout each day. We didn't get back in time for him to get his blood counts done on Friday. For the next 7 days he will get a break from chemo. Usually, though, he doesn't get a break from the nausea or constipation.

Please pray with us concerning Jason's disappointment about MTSU and the Lord's will there and about the management of his pain, nausea, and constipation--that God would give him relief from all three. Please continue to pray for complete healing here on earth for Jason.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by here to check on Jason.

Love in Christ,

Monday, July 11, 2005 11:41 AM CDT

Dear Friends,

It has been a week since I updated, so I guess it is time. I'm sorry that I don't update more often, but I really do check by everyday and read messages. Thank you all so much for praying for Jason and for asking others to pray for him, too. Thank you for the encouraging messages. Knowing that you are praying means so much to us. For Jason to be doing as well as he is at this point is amazing and I'm sure that is all an answer to prayer.

Since the last update, Jason was in a car wreck. Last Wednesday, 3 days after the jet ski accident, Jason and Katie went out to get flowers and a Hollywood video Gift Card for the fireman hurt in the jet ski accident. Jason feels terrible about this accident and that Randy, the fireman, was hurt. Katie was driving and had to make a left turn to get out of the video store and go home. Traffic was backed up at the light, but some people in 2 lanes made room for them to get out and she was inching out into the turn lane when a car came flying through-very quickly to get up to the light over 50 feet away and smashed into the driver's side ripping off the front bumper and more. The driver's side airbag opened, but not Jason's. Jason called from the scene of the accident. No one in either car was seriously injured, but both cars had to be towed away. When Jason got home he sounded really shaky-with a quivery voice. He said he was just shaken up from the wreck.

Jason has always been accident prone-from the time he started walking. We had learned to live with that. Every 2-3 years he had an emergency room trip. We thought he would grow out of it someday. I wish that was all we had to deal with and not cancer. Even in our worst nightmare nothing this awful could have happened. On Friday, Kristen, the hospice nurse did his counts-platelets are now 255,000 -up from 199,000; WBC are 4.2 up from 2.7, but hematocrit is 30 which is down from 34.

The visible tumors on his arm, chest and shoulder seem about the same. He says that when I don't give him the OTC supplements on Bill Peeples anti-angiogenesis protocol that the tumors seem to grow. I can't tell. His belly seems a bit more rounded and his port doesn't stand out as much from his chest as it used to, yet he hasn't gained weight-I just wonder what the tumors in his retroperitoneal area are doing. I wish that we could have scans to see, but Jason sees no point in knowing. All of us are just hoping and praying for a miracle.

Last Friday, when Kristen the hospice nurse came she couldn't get Jason's port to work to draw blood. Jason's oncologist thinks it is because it is just old. Jason thought the wrecks may have done something to it. Jason also had an appointment with Dr. Bernui. At the doctor's office blood was taken for his weekly tests. Jason told Kristen that there is a new small lump on the left side of his chest. He noted on a sheet he filled out for his doctor that he has urinary hesitancy and here at home I notice urinary frequency. I am so concerned that this is caused by tumor pressing on his bladder. His oncologist said it could be a urinary tract infection. when we went out to eat after church he told me that his left foot (the one that had the primary tumor) has been hurting the last couple of days, especially in the morning, but it was hurting at the restaurant yesterday, too. Of course, you know my first thought, though I didn't voice it. Jason said that perhaps it was hurt in one of the wrecks, even though he didn't feel pain there until a day or two afterwards. I hope that is what is wrong. Please pray that it is anything but the return of cancer.

I e-mailed his oncologist on Saturday (before I knew of the pain in his foot). I told her about the new lump and the other problem and she that even though there is a new lump, he is to continue on the chemotherapy each night as it has slowed tumor growth. Chemo will be delayed or end when his blood counts fall too low.

I had pictures taken at Sears and I'm hoping this link will work so that you can see the pictures Do a google search with the link. For me it didn't immediately come up but there was a place to click on the link again and it did come up then. http://tinyurl.com/8n4oh To see the pictures click on yes on the security information, then click login under member login in and then click on view/order under the picture and then click view all over the picture. If you click on one of the pictures you can see it bigger. The online session ID: 41386A77597180 and Online session password: J88DZPHHH if you need them. Be careful not to click on delete session because I guess that would make the pictures just go away. I hope that you can see them, they turned out pretty good. I hope these links work for you.

Please pray for Leslie from the Rhabdokids list. Her 13 year old son Orville passed away this week. He was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma 9 months ago. He had been in a lot of pain. Now his suffering is over, but his mom and brothers are hurting so much at the loss. She hasn't had time to update his webpage yet. www.caringbridge.org/ca/orville The loss of a child is a pain and disappointment that stays with a parent forever. Though the pain may fade, a parent can never, ever forget the child and the hopes and dreams you had. Every birthday and holiday and other special days will be a reminder of the loss for the rest of the parent's life & for the siblings, too. Although in your heart you know that they are in a better place, missing them never ends until you meet them again in heaven.

Justin fell at the skate park Saturday night at 6 pm. He hit his chin and eyebrow. He cut his eyebrow--about an inch long gash. He was unconsious for a moment and the cut bled alot. When he came home at 11:30 pm with his eyebrow swollen and bloody and covered with butterfly bandaids--well--an emergency room visit was in order. The doctor glued it together nicely, but it is still very swollen. Sad thing is, he will go back and try to repeat that skateboard trick, though hopefully he won't have another accident.

We have been very blessed that Jason has been enjoying life up to this point. This cancer is so aggressive that it is a miracle that 18 months after he was diagnosed he is still with us and able to be up and about. Please pray about these new concerns and that God will cause all the tumors to shrink and disappear soon.

Thank you for stopping by to check on Jason and for your continual prayers for him.

In Christ,

Dear Heavenly Father,
Please heal my son.
In Christ,

Monday, July 4, 2005 2:00 PM CDT

Dear Friends,

Just wanted to thank you all for stopping here to check on Jason and for your prayers for him. God is so good and I know that He hears our prayers. We believe in the power of prayer because we believe in a mighty God who hears and answers prayer.

Here is news for this week:

Jason was in a jet ski accident yesterday, July 3. Jason seems fine, just a cut on his knee and he is sore, especially the knee, both shoulders and his left thumb, but the other young man, a fireman, had a broken arm and cut lip that had to be stitched. One of the jet skis will have to be repaired. They collided pretty hard and the jet ski hit the other boy in the head so he had to go to the hospital. He did get to go home. We are thankful and praise God that they weren't hurt worse and that Jason even felt up to something like this, but so wish that it could have just been a fun day, with no worries when he could have just forgotten about all his troubles.

The hospice nurse is supposed to come on Friday to do his blood counts. We don't know what his blood counts were from this past Friday, but apparently they are good enough that they called to say that he can continue with the oral chemo--etoposide.

As I've thought about the accident, I remember the many, many accidents and emergency room visits that Jason has had. He learned to walk at 9 months and by 10 months he was running, but he didn't know how to stop. We joked and said we needed to get him a helmet. He's always been in a hurry. He totaled a car in April 2003, the year before he was diagnosed with cancer. The year before that he went on a church trip where he spent an entire day at a water park floating around on a float in a lazy river with no sun-screen, even though I did send sunscreen. He was sun-burned so badly that he had to go to an emergency clinic--his chest was swelling and he had to take Decadron, Motrin, and strong pain medicines for it. He peeled 5 times before he got home and was just as pale as he was before he left. This is only a few of his many accidents. We were always afraid he would die in an accident since he seems so accident-prone. We never dreamed he would have cancer-I guess no parent ever does.

Justin is in Arkansas with friends for the week. They are staying on the lake and will have a pontoon boat, jet skis, ski boat and tube available to them. I haven't heard from him since he left Friday night (I do wish that he had called) and so hope that he has had a safer time than Jason.

We are still praying for healing. Jason just would not go to the healing service on Friday night. I know that God can heal anywhere, but I wish that he had gone. Sometimes people in the Bible had to go to a special place for healing, like when Naaman went to see Elisha or even when people came in crowds to ask Jesus or the apostles for healing. I think sometimes people really are healed at such services and if that's the case I just wish Jason had gone.

The four men from Mt. Juliet that we know, 2 pastors and 2 of Jason's teachers, came and prayed over Jason last week and that was really good. Someone last night at a friend's house said that he is reading a book with a title The Diet That Heals and he said that it would be good if Jason would take communion here at home everyday with just a sip of grape juice and a cracker and a prayer claiming the promise "by His stripes I am healed." I still think of sending a prayer cloth to those people who preached at the healing service to have them pray over it and return it to me for Jason.

Thank you all for praying for Jason and please pray for the fireman who was hurt in the jet ski accident.

Your prayers mean so much to us. Thank you for praying for Jason.

In Christ,

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 11:43 AM CDT

Dear Friends,

Just wanted to thank you all for stopping here to check on Jason and for your prayers for him. God is so good and I know that He hears our prayers. We believe in the power of prayer because we believe in a mighty God who hears and answers prayer.

Wow, it appears that God has answered our prayers concerning Jason's blood counts even before his week off chemo. The hospice nurse could not believe the first results so she had the lab run them again and they were the same, and so, unless they mistakenly used someone else's blood, Jason's counts are Hematocrit 34 (it had been 30), Platelets 228,000 (they had been 199,000) and white blood cells 2.8 (a decrease from 4.2). This is amazing considering that he had been on his oral chemo for 3 weeks and the trend had been a decrease in Hematocrit and Platelets. We don't know what this means, but we do praise the Lord that his platelets and hematocrit went up and pray that this Friday that will be confirmed when his counts are done again.

I had asked specifically "Please pray that his blood counts will come up this week, especially the hematocrit." on June 25. Thank you all so much for praying and Praise the Lord that he answered that prayer.

Now since I asked so specifically in that prayer and God answered, I want to ask specifically for prayers that God will cause all the visible tumors on Jason's body to begin shrinking and disappear and that the tumors internally would also shrink and disappear, not just temporarily, but permenantly as God heals his body. I know that God can do that. The doctors would say that what I am asking you to pray for is impossible, but Our God, Our loving Heavenly Father can do impossible things. He is the Great Physician.

There is a Miracle Healing Service at Trinity Music City--this coming Friday. Honestly, in all the years of living here (9 years ) I have never seen an announcement in the paper telling about such a service there. I would like to take Jason to this service. I know it will probably be a long and tiring for Jason, but I hope, if it is the Lord's will, that he will go and that God will work in this service to heal him. Please pray about this--I plan to call today to find out details.

This evening is when some friends will be coming here to pray for Jason. They will be here at 6:30 PM. I want to thank them for coming here to pray for him and thank you all for praying for our dear son.

Without scans, we really don't know what is going on with Jason's cancer, but continue to pray for what seems impossible, which is complete earthly healing. We look at the blood counts and notice how he is feeling, any other physical changes and that is what we have to go on. This week it seems to me that Jason is less tired in comparison to last week, although he does stay up nearly all night playing computer games and then sleep all day. It is hard going from day-to-day with the dire predictions and with what I, myself, have read about this kind of cancer and stories of other children.

You prayers mean so much to us. Thank you for praying for Jason.

In Christ,

Tuesday, June 21, 2005 2:20 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,
Thank you once again for stopping by Jason's page to check on him. Your concern and prayers mean so much to us. God hears and answers prayer. We do believe in the power of prayer. Thank you so much for praying.


Jason still seems fine. He looks more tired. It seems like there are dark circles under his eyes. He never complains or cries, but tears are never very far away for me. We haven't got his counts back from Friday--of course they would drop some while he is on chemo. This week he gets a break from the etoposide. Please pray that his blood counts will come up this week, especially the hematocrit. Some of our friends are coming here to pray for Jason on Tuesday night. Anyone who wants to come here and pray for Jason is welcome to come. I know that whereever you are you are praying for him. Thank you.

Jason had a good week last week. He is taking only the 24 hour time release morphine for pain and has stopped taking the other pain medicine that was for breakthrough pain. He doesn't complain about being in pain right now. I don't know if that is just him being tough or if there is less pain. He is still taking the oral chemotherapy called etoposide and it is causing his hair to fall out. He thinks that he will lose his hair again--with other chemo he has lost eyelashes and eyebrows too. He must take the chemotherapy until this coming Friday and then he gets a 1 week break. The hospice nurse did ask how long the doctor wants him to take the etoposide and when will we know when to stop it. I don't know, but she is supposed to ask the doctor this week. Jason stays up late almost every night playing computer games. He got a new game so there is a challenge to beat the game.

On Saturday, Jason went to a friend's Eagle Scout presentation and then he went out to eat Saturday night with Katie and was out until late. He had the car out all afternoon and evening. He was so tired on Sunday.

The hospice nurse came on Friday to draw blood for counts. His White Blood Cells are 4.2 (increased), Platelets are 199,000 (decreased but okay), Hematocrit was 30 (a pretty significant decrease from 35 but not low enough to need a transfusion). Jason's doctors are sure that cancer is back in his bone marrow, but they see no need for scans or bone marrow biopsies, so we really don't know what is going on with the cancer, but continue to pray for what seems impossible--complete earthly healing.

We are planning a family vacation to Lake Cumberland in Kentucky toward the end of July. I have never been to the area(about 3 1/2 hours away), but I have reserved a house with a hot tub in a gated resort community that has 3 pools. Cumberland Falls, the only waterfall in the Western Hemisphere where you can see a moonbow (on clear nights with a full moon-and there is a full moon when we hope to go) is only 15 minutes away. Please pray that we will be able to take this trip together and have an wonderful and memorable time together and that we will have many more wonderful vacations together.

In Christ,

Monday, June 13, 2005 2:06 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,
Thank you so much for stopping by here to check on Jason and for your concern and your prayers for him. Thank you for leaving messages in his guestbook here. You all are so encouraging. We praise God that Jason still feels well and know that it is because of answered prayers.

The move has been completed. Jason is in his big new private downstairs bedroom that once was Justin's. I know that it has been hard on Justin giving up his room. In some ways I think the days when things were being moved were absolutely exhausting for Jason (and me). We still have clothes to go through and get rid of, DVDs and videogames to move, but the big job is over. Jason is really enjoying the room. His new bed with the thick plush mattress is better for his back. He has been sleeping better, he says, though he thinks that his back may be hurting more and he mentioned that he thought that tumors may be growing again. I cried the day he moved into his new room. His old room was just across the hall from mine and I could look in and see him breathing and that was a comfort to me. The new room is so dark that I can't see him at all when he is sleeping.

He has had less nausea this week than last week, but it is still a problem. He is thinking that his hair will all fall out within the next few weeks. I have hoped that it wouldn't with this oral chemo. He is still up tonight playing video games.

Katie is due back tomorrow from a trip with her family. I know that Jason will be glad to see her.

It has been a quiet rainy weekend and we did need rain. It would have been good to sleep through, but Justin had a roomful of overnight guests on Saturday. I took the power cord for the X-box away at 2:00 AM and told them they all needed to go to bed when they got back from a late drive out to a restaurant close to 3:00 AM. Justin isn't really supposed to even be playing Josh's X-box, since one of his friends broke Josh's headset, and Justin is supposed to replace it--which he did, but the new one didn't work even when it was just out of the box. We had made a rule that Justin couldn't have overnight guests on Saturday night(so he would go to church), but he promised to bring all the guys that spent the night to church with him. Then they wouldn't get up and even Justin didn't go to church. I think that Justin is embarrassed to go to church with the haircut that one of his "friends" gave him--they call it a "frohawk" and I don't like it at all, but he says that he will cut it all when it grows out more.

We continue to pray for complete earthly healing for Jason. Thank you so much for your prayers for him. He has been so strong through all of this.

In Christ,

Monday, June 6, 2005 3:45 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,
I have had trouble signing on to the author page for Jason--caringbridge has been re-organized, and doesn't have our password in memory now, and I don't know our password--and I keep forgetting to ask David. Hope you all will see this in the guest book. I finally asked David the password and he remembered so I can update again.

I put this in the guestbook on June 3:

Just wanted to stop by and thank everyone for praying for our family--for Jason and Justin. Also, I'm sorry that I didn't get to post yesterday about how Justin's visit went with the orthopedic oncologist. After we got home from our trip to East TN, I washed several loads of clothes (washer is in the kitchen), but I had not washed dishes, and before I did the kitchen sink was stopped up and wouldn't drain and it was backing up into the dishwasher, so I couldn't wash dishes. It gets kind of hard to fix food in a kitchen when you can't use the sink. A plumber came out today, and now my sink is working--Still haven't had a chance to work up the 5 gallons of strawberries we picked in East Tennessee, but they are in the refrigerator.

God has answered our prayers concerning Justin. This specialist said that it is not the kind of tumor mentioned before. She says that it most certainly is a non-ossifying fibroma which is a very common benign tumor found in over 30f children. It should resolve by itself and will probably ossify on its own--nothing will need to be done. Another X-ray with a marker to measure and compare size was done and in 2 1/2 months he will have another X-ray just to check it for growth. I will feel even better when that X-ray is taken, but this doctor really seemed to know what she was talking about, and was very reassuring that it was nothing to worry about, so we are praising the Lord for this good news.

Jason is having a good week, though he always seems tired and it is so unusual for him to be in bed so early each night. Katie doesn't have to start her job at the UPS store (formerly Mailboxes, Etc.) until next week, so she is spending much time here and Jason loves it. He is wanting to move into the big bedroom downstairs, that his little brother has had for several years--so he won't be so cramped for space when his friends come over. Jason could have had that room years ago, but when he didn't take it, Justin did. Justin is being very gracious in giving up his room for Jason. So it is hard changing things around. Jason's friends are helping. This weekend they emptied the entire room except the couch and bed and steam-cleaned the carpet and wiped down the walls. They want to paint next. Jason wants me to empty the closets--that will be hard. There is still a lot of work, painting and new furniture to think about. (David finished painting the walls today - Thursday- and only the woodwork is left.) (Jason is sleeping in his new bedroom, but there is still so much work to do-Sunday night. Please pray for Justin. This is a difficult thing for him.) After Jason moved downstairs today it made me really sad. His room upstairs was just across the hall from ours and has been his room for 10 years--so many memories of my little boy growing up. It will always be Jason's room--the past 18 months I could just look in on him, watch him breathing--I'm going to miss him being so close.

Jason is had a break from the oral chemo last week. He had talked about being more aggressive with treatment and doing IV chemo again before he left for the beach, but has changed his mind and says that since the oncologists don't think it will do any good as far as giving him a chance to survive cancer that he will just leave his life in God's hands. He will continue on the oral chemo he said. The hospice nurse is supposed to come on Friday to check his blood counts and if they are good enough, then he will start chemo again on Saturday. The lumps on his arm and shoulder seemed a little smaller than they were and he isn't having to take extra pain tablets for breakthrough pain. We are so thankful to God for these blessings.

Saturday night he started another round of 21 days of oral chemo--etoposide each night.

He has really wanted us to get him registered for college. He asked months ago. We have delayed doing it and now he has become concerned that registration will close (but that's not until July 1). Tonight, David registered him on-line for MTSU where he wants to go. His life is so uncertain, we don't know what tomorrow holds for him, let alone next week or next month. We are thankful for each good day he has--he just seems so very tired.

Thank you all for praying for Jason. We continue to pray for complete healing. God is so good.


Tuesday, May 31, 2005 1:07 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,
Thank you so much for stopping by to check on Jason and for your continual prayers for him. We need a miracle from the Lord.

I know you have been wondering how the beach trip went. Well, we didn't talk to Jason all week, but Markell, the mom on the trip, called us to keep us updated several times. She made sure that Jason got his medicine each day. Jason, Katie and all his friends had fun relaxing at the house, or at the pool. Some of the guys got sunburnt, but Jason didn't get out in the heat a lot. They got back late Saturday night. The trip down and back was long and tiring for everyone. I could tell that Jason was pretty tired, but he stayed up on the computer pretty late on Saturday.

On Sunday, Katie picked Jason up and they spent the day with her family at the lake. Jason rode on a jet ski with Katie and Katie brought a framed picture of the two of them that was taken on Sunday. They went shopping at Best Buy today.

I made an appointment with Jason's oncologist for this Friday. Jason had talked of wanting to be on more aggressive chemotherapy after the trip. When I mentioned the appointment, well, I believe he just wants me to cancel it. He said that since none of the oncologists believe that more aggressive chemo will increase his chance of surviving that he thinks that he just needs to leave his life in God's hands and not do more aggressive therapy.

Tomorrow at 9:00 AM is Justin's appointment with the orthopedic oncologist. I have read some new information that says that tumors found incidently on X-rays that aren't causing pain are usually benign. Praying that Jusin's tumor is just a benign one and that it will go away on it's own without a need for surgery.

I was away on a trip this week, too. My Aunt Madeline from Balimore, MD was visting in East Tennesse and since she only gets to come in every year or two I went up to see her. When I got home I washed several loads of clothes and was working in the kitchen. After a while my kitchen sink was stopped up and the clog is affecting my dishwasher, too, so that I can't wash any dishes. David tried very hard today to get it to work, but just couldn't. I'll have to call a plumber sometime tomorrow.

Thank you so much once again for your prayers for Jason. I am convinced that it is because of answered prayer that Jason is having less pain and less nausea and is enjoying life at this point. We are so thankful that he could go on the beach trip--(just wish that he could have a vacation from cancer). We still continue to pray for complete healing here on earth from Jason, with tears throwing ourselves in our helplessness on God's mercy, knowing that we don't deserve any good thing from the Lord, yet He has blessed us so abundantly already. He cares for us. He loves us.

Friday, May 20, 2005 11:48 PM CDT

Hi Everyone,

We really appreciate you all stopping by to check on Jason and for your continued prayers. We feel so helpless, but we know that God is in control and that no disease, not even Jason's cancer is beyond his power. We know that God can heal Jason and so we continue to pray that way. We are thankful for each and every day, especially the good day, that we have with Jason and his brothers and sister.

I would say that Jason has had a great week. Most of his friends were back home from college by last week-end and so Jason has had plenty of company. Then on Wednesday afternoon Katie got home. I just can't even tell you how much Jason looked forward to Wednesday and Katie's arrival. David asked Jason if he was going to the first showing of the new Star Wars movie. I didn't realize that it would start at Wednesday night at midnight. David ordered 5 tickets on Tuesday night and Jason and I went down to Opry Mills and picked them up. Then on Wednesday night Jason and Katie and 3 other friends went to see the movie and were out until after 3 AM.

Jason has been on the oral chemotherapy, etoposide, for 11 days now. He takes it at midnight with his nausea medicines and 24-hour pain medcine. By the time he wakes up the side-effects are pretty much over, except in the late afternoon he has to take another nausea medicine called Kytril before he eats. He SAYS that the pain is less (in his shoulder blade) and today he said that he is no longer taking the fast acting pain medicine. I hope that he is not just enduring the pain and trying to tough it out, but he doesn't look like he is suffering. He looks really good.

His hospice nurse came today and drew blood, took his blood pressure, and gave us a copy of last week's blood counts. His white blood cells have increased from 3.2 to 4.0 (in normal range) and his platelets are 220,000 which is also in the normal range and I believe has also increased. His hematocrit is down to 33.8 so it has dropped 6 points, but not enough to need a transfusion. Actually, pretty good counts considering that he felt so bad last week and that he is on oral chemo. It will be at least Monday before I know what his blood counts were from today, but I hope that all will be well for the long anticipated beach trip.

I just posted a new journal entry note about Justin's chondromyxoid fibroma--a rare benign bone tumor. We expect that he will have to go to a specialist- a pediatric othropedic oncologist in a few days just to make sure. Look in past journal entries for the note.

Praying for a miracle of healing for Jason.

Saturday, May 21, 2005 0:29 AM CDT

On May 6th Jason's 17 year old brother, Justin, hurt his knew while skateboarding. His leg below the knee bent out at a right angle and he had to pop it back into place. He wanted to see if it was broken, so I took him to the doctor last Thursday and his leg was X-rayed. The report said that it wasn't broken, but that there is a cyst on his femur. Today I had to take him back and the radiologists report said that it is probably a chondromyxoid fibroma. Knowing about Jason and for my peace of mind the doctor has ordered an MRI of Justin's knee and the femur. I did a google search. It is also a rare condition.

On May 18th Justin had the MRI done of his knee and femur this morning at 7:30AM. The radiologist who did the x-ray a few days ago said that it is a chondromyxoid fibroma. How we hope and pray that it is just that-which is a rare benign bone tumor that may require surgery. What a terrible feeling it was to sit there with that noisy MRI going, with a second son. It will be 24-48 hours before the doctor will get back to us with

results. I'm still debating with myself about genetic testing for Li-Fraumeni beginning with Jason. I often think that we should just finish filling out the papers and go ahead and make the appointment with the geneticist. The first appointment would just be discussion and then they would recommend whether or not to test, but the test is not cheap.

Several people in our families have had cancer. David's dad had lung cancer and a lung removed about 6 years ago--in his 60's. David's grandfather (mother's father) had pancreatic cancer spread to colon in his 60's. I have a 1st cousin on my mother's side who has relapsed metastatic breast cancer in her mid-30's, and a cousin also on that side who had Hodgkin's in her early 40's and 2 cousins (same side of family) who had children--one with neuroblastoma at age 1 and one with Ewing's sarcoma at age 18. My mom's brothers in their 60's have had cancer- one had colon cancer and now has an colostomy and one had bladder cancer and was treated last year. My dad's sister also in her 60's has been fighting breast cancer for several years.

More significant than all these to me is that David's grandmother had breast cancer in her late 30's and David's mother began having precancerous tumors in her breasts at age 35 that led to masectomy at age 41. David's infant uncle (mother's side) died by age 2 back in the 1930's. The baby became jaundiced and declined over several months. Now David's mother will tell you, "I didn't have cancer." Of course she is correct, but the reason that she had surgery was because they expected cancer to develop. She is still living. As far as her infant brother who died, she says that she has talked to her Uncle Art and her Aunt Flo who remember that time and they both say that he died of a congenital liver disorder. In my mind, it could have been cancer. There just weren't tests back then to rule out cancer in a small child, especially for a poor family living in rural southwest Virginia. So many children died back then of infectious diseases. In our day and time, childhood death from disease seemed so uncommon until childhood cancer strikes and then we learn that cancer is the #1 disease cause of childhood death.

With the early breast cancers of both Jason's grandmother and great-grandmother--I thought it might be Li-Fraumeni.

We go back today at 1:45 to talk to the doctor about Justin's scan. According to what I have read about this condition - chondromyxoid fibroma - the bad things that it might be (malignant tumors) cannot be ruled out with scans (Although findings on conventional radiographs may suggest the diagnosis of CMF, definitive diagnosis requires an analysis of biopsy specimens.), so I don't know what the doctor will want to do.

On May 19th we saw the doctor about Justin--just to go over the radiologist's report. This young doctor who is a general practioner admitted that this is way out of her field of expertise. She suggested 2 things--which were also the radiologist's suggestions. Either we can wait 6 weeks and then do another MRI to see if there is any change in the tumor or they can refer us to one of the oncologists at Vanderbilt--an adult specialist (I think it was an orthopedic oncologist) to get his opinion. The MRI is already scheduled now no matter what we decide and they were making an appointment with the specialist for Justin, but we don't know the dates yet. Justin said, "Mom, you worry too much." David said, "No, Justin, she doesn't." Before Jason's cancer I probably would have thought that we could just wait 6 weeks and that it wouldn't matter, after all, my children had always been so healthy. In my mind now, every single day counts when it might be cancer and wishing later that you could have known or done tests sooner just won't help. Despite saying that I still regret that I didn’t have Jason's foot looked at in the fall of 2002 when he leaped off a high platform in the dark on a school trip. He thought he had broken his heel, and limped around for several weeks, but whenever I suggested going to a doctor he protested and said that it would be fine, always wanting to prove how tough he is. I'll never know if they might have found the tumor in his foot at a much earlier stage with X-rays and scans they might have done at that time.

Thank you for praying concerning Justin's situation.

Friday, May 13, 2005 11:21 PM CDT

Hi Everyone,
Thank you so much for stopping by to check on Jason and your continued prayers for him.

He started taking the oral etoposide-chemotherapy--last Saturday. The first few days were especially difficult and he could hold nothing down. It seemed to him as though he had bouts of nausea throughout the day. Now he takes the chemotherapy at bedtime at midnight along with all the anti-nausea medicines and goes to sleep. When he wakes up the nausea isn't as bad as it was the first days. Sometimes it seems as though he is sleeping longer. I'm not used to him getting to bed so early. Today he seemed so melancholy, quiet, withdrawn. Tonight some of his friends came over and I heard Jason laughing with them. It's music to my ears, but I don't hear it as often as I used to.

Jason went to the radiation oncologist on Monday and had a CT scan done of his chest, including the area that is causing him the most pain--his left shoulder blade. The radiation oncologist thought that a tumor probably was pressing on a nerve causing the burning pain in his left arm. On Wednesday, we thought radiation would begin. It would be so nice to be rid of this pain. The radiation oncologist said that there really wasn't much sign of cancer on the CT scan--Jason's lungs were clear, no destruction of bone by cancer, no large tumors anywhere to be seen, except the lumps that we can see on his arm, shoulder and chest. So radiation hasn't been done yet. When the tumor board met today, they thought that the pain must be caused by cancer spreading into the bone marrow of the shoulder blade. Jason may yet have that area radiated, after he gets back from the beach and the radiation oncologist said that would be fine if he waited. I think that Jason was relieved to learn that there was not a large tumor at his shoulder blade and since then he has been trying to use less pain medicine, but if it hurts he should still take his medicine.

The nurse and social worker from hospice came out on Friday. They are very nice. Jason has to have blood drawn once a week while on this chemotherapy. Hospice can draw the blood and check his counts. This way he doesn't have to go down to the clinic each week. They also bring all the medicines he needs.

The trip to the beach is only 1 week away. They will be leaving very early next Sunday. Pray that this would be a wonderful week for Jason and his friends. I wish we could be there--but I know that he wants to go with just his friends. We are so thank to the Sewell family for making this trip possible for Jason. He has looked forward to it so much. Please pray for his friends, too. I know this is hard on them.

Justin, Jason's 17 year old brother, hurt his leg last week and had to have an X-ray. The radiologist said that there were no breaks, but that Justin has a chondromyoxid fibroma on his femur. This is a rare benign bone cyst or tumor. These are usually surgically removed--but that is when they are causing pain. He is to have an MRI done next Tuesday. How I wish that we could have found Jason's cancer before it had spread to bone marrow.

In Christ,

Monday, May 9, 2005 3:01 AM CDT

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for faithfully praying for Jason. I don't know how we could make it through each day without the Lord's help. We so need your prayers.

Friday, Jason went back to the Children's Hospital. He had not slept much or eaten in 4 days. He even tried to go without his pain medicines if it would help with the constipation caused probably by the increased dose of narcotic pain relievers, but he had to take them before he could go to sleep last night. The doctors just told us to give him lots of Miralax. We were giving double doses every 2 hours from 12 noon on. This afternoon he said that he just couldn't drink any more of it unless he had a bm. Finally he had some relief. We are reduced to a pitiful state to be so relieved over this, but were so afraid that the constipation might be caused by an obstruction (tumor growth) and that his life could be over this week. The nurse from the adult oncology clinic, I guess in response to a question about this had told him to try a Fleet's Enema and if that didn't work then he should go to the emergency roon where they might do surgery, which is scary--what good would surgery do at this point. He kept asking, "What if it is a tumor?" and was very frustrated. He is seems very tired and even paler after this ordeal.

Jason told the doctors that he was willing now to do any chemo treatment, even the harshest one where he would have to have surgery to have a double port and 6 different drugs VACIME. The nice lady doctor asked him why he would be willing to do that now and he said that he has a reason to live now. She said that he would have to go through staging again with bone marrow biopsy, and all the scans and she reminded him of how much he would be hospitalized and the problem of neutropenia with these drugs. Then she left the room and the other doctor came in. He, of course, was very blunt. He asked Jason why he would put himself through all that when it would not be a cure, saying that his cancer has spread too much and this treatment would cause him a lot more suffering.

What he suggested was oral chemotherapy- etoposide 100mg for 21 days, off for 7, with counts every week and if we can get hospice started they can do the counts for us at home and help manage pain and other problems. We got the prescription. The hope is that the etoposide will slow the cancer down. I'm very sad-time is slipping away and things aren't so good for Jason right now. I called hospice. They are coming out at Monday afternoon. It was a hard call to make. I have cried so much today. Also on Monday morning Jason is going to see about having radiation to his shoulder blade to try to stop this pain. At this point they just will give a couple days of high dose radiation, as they say there is no worry about the long term effects of high doses since there won't be a long term. Over the weekend his left leg started hurting him on Saturday and he was limping that day. On Sunday, his leg hurt less and he went to Sunday morning church. His shoulder hurt more today.

He had mentioned wishing that he could have ridden a four-wheeler and a jet ski. Now he says that he is too weak. Thank you to everyone who has tried to arrange four wheelers and jet skis for him. I wish that he felt like doing this. I really appreciate your efforts and all the offers. I hope that he will feel well enough to do this soon. He still wants to go on the beach trip. The deadline for reserving the house is this Monday and we've told them to go ahead and reserve it. The trip is only 2 weeks away and yet things are so uncertain. I hope that it all works out for the trip.

Thank you, dear friends, for joining us in prayer.

In Christ,

Wednesday, May 4, 2005 9:26 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,
Thank you so much for stopping by to check on Jason and for your prayers for him and for our family. Thank you also for the encouraging messages in the guest book. We read them over and over.

Jason saw Dr. Burris yesterday. The results of the scans were really bad. The cancer has spread a lot. The investigational drugs seem to have made no difference, so Jason is off the drug study. The bulky retroperitoneal lymph nodes appear to have increased in volume. The place causing him pain--his left shoulder blade--the doctor believes it is a cancerous lymph node that is pressing on nerves. The worst part was the report of spread to the skeletal system. The report says: Dramatic increase in the number of skeletal metastases with lesions noted scattered throughout the cervical, thoraic, lumbar and sacral spines, as well as in the proximal left humerus, right scapular neck, left clavicle head, sternum, right scapula medial border, several ribs, multiple lesions of the iliac bones, ischial bones, bilaterally and right pubic bone at the symphysis. Metastases are also noted in the proximal right femur. In the lower extremities there is new abnormal focus of high uptake in the right proximal femur, in the distal right femoral metphysis and five new foci of abnormal uptake in the left femur proximal middle thirds. I thought I heard the doctor say that spread to his bones could cause a lot of pain.

There has been no spread to abdomenal organs or lungs and his blood counts are still great: Hematocrit 40.9 (increased since last week) White Blood Cells 3.2 (decreased slightly) and Platelets 189,000

Jason is willing to have more chemotherapy and this is not something we are pushing him to do. What he wants more time. He wants to be able to go on the beach trip with his friends. It seems like his cancer has spread so much and is now causing him pain. He is taking a 24 hour time release morphine tablet and for breakthrough pain he take a stronger fast acting tablet.

He mentioned yesterday that he wishes he could be like he used to be when he was able to tolerate pain. He says that he feels apathetic about things--that he just doesn't care and that it takes more and more effort to do anything other than just sit at the computer, or lie in bed. He says that it takes effort for him to just be able to concentrate.

Yesterday, in one minute, he talked about saving money for a down payment on a house and about deciding on a major in college if he survives, and in the next minute he said, "I've never been on a four-wheeler or a jet ski and I'll probably never get to." I want so much for him to have a future and for his dreams to come true.

Thank you, dear friends, for joining us in prayer.

In Christ,

Saturday, April 30, 2005 5:31 PM CDT

Hi everyone,

Once again, I am sorry that I haven't updated this page sooner. I just hate what I have to write and sorry this entry is so long. I wish that I could write good news of shrinking tumors, but that is not the case. Jason went to the clinic on Thursday as part of the drug study to have blood drawn and to get another 7 days of the trial drug. We have stopped asking him so much how he feels during the week. He gets so tired of us asking all the time. I thought we could wait and just let the nurse practioner ask him. He told her that the pain in his back under his shoulder blade and in his sternum is continuing to increase. There are now some new lumps at his shoulder blade that can be felt and a new very small lump on his chest. He says he will be happy if it just slows the cancer down.

His blood counts remain about normal with the hematocrit droping a fraction of a point and platelets and white blood cells staying the same, but I noticed that one of the lab tests that is supposed to be in the 300-600 range has been steadily increasing week by week from normal to 2,200. I asked the nurse what it meant. She said it was a liver function test and then mistakenly (I hope)said, "But he does have some cancer in his liver" I said, "No, there has never been a scan showing liver involvement"--the scan mentioned bulky retroperitoneal adenopathy but also said no abdomenal organ involvement. I came home and researched it and one of the dose-limiting toxicities of the PTK was elevation of liver enzymes. I don't know how high they would allow this liver enzyme to rise before they would stop the drug--but he does have only 2 weeks left on the trial.

I heard the nurses talking, but it may not have been about Jason--although I think it was because we were the only ones left in the room. One nurse said, "I can't write progressive disease, so what can I write?" I didn't hear the answer, but I thought, "If it's progressive disease why not just write that?" While Jason was putting his shoes on I slipped around the corner and asked the nurse practioner, "With new lumps and more pain, it seems to me that he is having progressive disease." Then she asked, "Oh, does it seem like progressive disease." (sweet-not mean) I said, "Yes, could he possibly have scans done early." (You see, progressive disease is a reason to come off the study.) So after we left they called Dr. Burris and a PET scan is scheduled for this Monday at 2:00 in the afternoon and a visit with the doctor on Tuesday at 11:00. Originally, they would have been on May 9. They called to tell me as we were driving home, so I told Jason that he was having scans done early and why. He had thought that the drugs were working and he was getting better. That this was giving him time and perhaps they are.

A sad thing is that Jason has had to take his anti-nausea medicines and so he hasn't always been fully awake when the nurse practioner talks to him and even when the doctor talked to him it seems like they've all downplayed any progression of disease and Jason had the idea that things were actually improving or at least not getting worse. He would stay on these drugs forever if they would only slow down the cancer since they have so few side effects (we thought-until I noticed elevation in liver enzymes). He has been making plans to go to college in the fall. None of us really understand the significance of any of these scans. No one has shown us the scans or explained what they mean or how extensive the bulky adenopathy is or the spread to iliac crest or what is going on in the thoraic spine. We don't really even know where these things are exactly or what to expect. Jason feels that they've been less than honest with him.

Jason says that he is not ready to quit fighting. He says that he is willing to do more chemo. He must have forgotten how he felt in December when he quit and I can hardly bear the thought of him suffering through chemo again with hair loss and all the nausea and vomiting. He is interested in what the next step will be. If these drugs truly are not working and may even be damaging his liver, probably he will have to come off of them.

On a much brighter note, his girlfriend, Katie, is home this week-end and even surprised Jason by coming in a day earlier than she had told him. She got here on Thursday. She brightens and brings joy to his life and really makes him want to live. "I'll do chemo, if Katie is here." I only wish that he hadn't stopped chemo back in December 3 rounds early, but who knows what difference that would have made. At least, he had 2 really good months and he met Katie during that time.

Please pray concerning these scans and doctor appointment. Pray that despite what we see that the cancer hasn't spread internally. Pray that God would give the doctor wisdom in deciding what to do next. Please pray that the cancer can be stopped. Continue to pray that Jason can go on the beach trip at the end of May. You all know that God is bigger than any problem we have. We just need to keep our eyes on Him. It is just so hard for me not to think about losing Jason.

Dear Lord,
Please put your healing hand on Jason. Remove this cancer from his body and restore his health. Humanly, his being healed is impossible--but with You, Lord--nothing is impossible. I know that You can heal Him. I turn to You. I trust in You. Thank You that You are in complete control of Jason's life. Please heal him and may you be glorified in this.

Thank you, dear friends, for joining us in prayer.

In Christ,

Friday, April 22, 2005 7:43 PM CDT

April 27, 2005

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to let you know that Jason went to church on Sunday. Just a small thing--but it seemed wonderful to me that our whole family was there--even if we didn't sit together. (Our church has 3 services and the older boys go to a different service.) Jason hasn't been to church since last fall and with the flu going around in the winter that may have been a good thing. Also, with the medicines he is on it is hard for him to get up and go to church and stay awake through the service. One of his good friends came over at 8:30 to get him and take him on to church. Our pastor is preaching a series of sermons on "Fear Factor". On Sunday the sermon was about fear of death.

Jason's back seemed stiff and must have been hurting him. I know he is trying to be very strong and tough and not let this pain take over. He just doesn't want to talk about what is happening. He went to bed very early Sunday night. One of the things he wants most is to be able to make this trip to the beach with his friends that they are planning. I know I have mentioned it before, but please pray that he will be able to go on this trip toward the end of May.

Please, let's all keep praying that God will take away his pain and heal Jason completely, here on earth. I know that God can do that if it is His will.

In Christ,

Hi everyone,
Thank you for thinking of Jason and stopping by to check on him. I know that you all are praying for him as we are that God would heal him completely here on earth and that God would be glorified through this. Thank you so much for the notes of encouragement that you have left in the guest book.

Jason has increasing pain in his back (perhaps other places, but he only mentions his back). He says that it feels as though something is pressing between his shoulder blade and his rib cage. I think it hurts some all the time, but it hurts him most when he wakes up in the morning and it hurts him a lot until the pain medicine kicks in. I don't think he gets a lot of sleep because of the pain. Of course, being Jason, he doesn't complain, but we are giving him strong pain medicine--a 24 hour long acting tablet and then 1 for break-through pain that he can take as needed. I feel so helpless.

At the clinic this week, when we asked if they would do more scans sooner than May 9 when they are scheduled for the end of the clinical trial, the answer was "No." Progressive disease is a reason to drop off the clinical trial according to the paper we were given at first. When I asked if the increasing pain means tumor growth, the nurse said, "Not necessarily," which doesn't really make sense. No one has ever gone over the scans with us or shown us what any of the scans done during this clinical trial mean or what to expect. It seems as though their goal is to keep him on the clinical trial until it is finished no matter what--not that we have other options, but perhaps if there is a tumor under his shoulder blade causing pain -- radiation might help that, but can't be done on this trial.

His blood counts were still normal this week. His hematocrit is now 39.6. A few weeks ago it had risen to 46, so it has gradually dropped.

Please continue to pray for healing and now for relief from this pain and that he can sleep better.

Dear Lord,
Please put your healing hand on Jason, remove this cancer from his body and restore his health. Humanly, his being healed is impossible--but with You, Lord--nothing is impossible. I know that You can heal Him. I turn to You. I trust in You. Thank You that You are in complete control of Jason's life. Please heal him and may you be glorified in this.

Thank you, dear friends, for joining us in prayer.

In Christ,

Sunday, April 17, 2005 11:10 PM CDT

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continual prayers for Jason. Thank you for caring, for checking to see how he's doing and for the encouraging messages left in the guestbook.

Jason returned safely this afternoon from his visit to Birmingham. He said that he had a good week-end. We were so glad that he was able to make the trip and are also thankful that he made it home.

His pain has increased alot. His next scans are scheduled for May 9. Despite the doctor saying that it is too early to tell if the clinical trial drugs are going to work, with the increasing pain it seems to us as though the cancer is spreading rapidly and unhindered. But what other choices do we have? Jason just needs a miracle to beat this cancer. No chemotherapy will do it -- only God can heal him.

When Jason reached Birmingham he called and left a message on my cell phone. He said, "Hi, Mom! Just calling to let you know that I arrived safely. Bye." Without thinking I deleted the message. It would have been neat to have saved it forever. I have no recordings of Jason's voice since he's grown up. It would be neat to have that message to play and replay if God takes him on to heaven.

Jason's brother, Justin, left his cell phone in his shoe under the trampoline and our dogs got it and chewed up the antenna and broke the camera on it and today Justin backed his dad's car into a friend's truck. It didn't hurt the truck but left a huge dent in David's car. Justin is just sick about it. He has had a very hard week. I told Jason, "Just see what happens when you are gone........"

Please continue to pray that God would work a miracle so that Jason is completely healed here on earth. Pray also for pain relief for Jason.

Thank you so much for lifting Jason and our family up in prayer. It means so much to us to know that you are praying.

Monday, April 11, 2005 8:57 AM CDT

Hi Everyone,
Thank you once again for stopping by Jason's page here and for the encouraging messages you have left on the guest book and your many prayers. It means so much to know that you care. I really wish that I could go back and thank each one of you personally.

Sorry it has been so long since I posted. I wish I could say that nothing has been happening, but actually Jason’s back is hurting more and sometimes he has to take medicine for the pain. To me, his face seems more tired all day long as though he has lost sleep. He has always been so tough, refusing pain medicine even when he had broken bones and during radiation, so I know that it must really be hurting. He says it hurts most in the morning and sometimes it keeps him from getting to sleep. The latest scans showed progression of the cancer. These were done about 1 ½ weeks ago. Tomorrow at 11:15, Jason will see the research oncologist and I guess he will discuss scan results. Jason seems more hopeful than he ever has, even wanting me to enroll him in college next fall at MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) and saving his money for college. Pray that God would work a miracle either through a medicine, a person, or just God himself and that Jason would be healed here on earth and that God would receive all the glory.

Thursday will be a very long day for Jason if the research oncologist decides to continue treatment. It is the last
day that he has to stay for 8 hours for blood draws and all. Then on Friday he has to come in for the Avastin injection and after that he is leaving for Birmingham on his own to spend the weekend with friends. Doing something feels so much better than giving up--please pray that this meeting today with the research oncologist won't be the end of Jason's hope---even if it means a different clinical trial.

In Christ,

Saturday, April 2, 2005 3:02 AM CST

Hi Everyone,

I just want to thank you all for stopping by Jason's page and for all the encouraging messages on the guest book and your prayers. It means so much to us to know that you care so much and I know that it is your prayers and God's grace that helps us to make it through each day.

Jason had a PET scan on Thursday. This was 14 days after the last one, and the results have made me very sad as it shows progressive disease. We haven’t seen the doctor since before treatment with PTK/Avastin – anti-angiogenesis began. Jason only saw a nurse-practitioner today and at first all she would tell him was that there was a “slight increase in size of the retroperitoneal nodes,” but when I asked for a copy of the PET scan results then she looked more closely before handing the copy to us and the scan is showing progression. She kept telling him not to get discouraged, that she has seen the Avastin do remarkable things. I feel that we are seeing the end of Jason’s life—that time is very short. It seems like the spread of cancer is happening so fast. David says not to push the panic button yet--that perhaps the Avastin will stop the growth of the tumor and he just received Avastin IV for the first time on Thursday. He has been planning a trip to the beach with some of his friends—just them—no parents—at the end of May when they all get out of school—2 months from now. From what the scan (below) says, I’m afraid that he won’t be able to go on such a trip. My heart aches. I love him so much. The hurt is beyond words. My sweet, sweet boy……….

Intense uptake is present within a right axillary node, with moderate to intense activity within two small left chest wall nodules. These have significantly increased since 3/11/05. There is extensive uptake within metabolic fat within the neck, upper chest, and right axilla. There is moderate to intense uptake within upper abdominal retroperitoneal nodes, which has slightly increased since the prior examination. There is significant increasing activity within the large posterior left iliac bone metastasis. Several small new areas of moderate to intense uptake are now noted within the left acetabulum, and within multiple areas in the thoracic spine. A new area of moderate focal uptake in the left upper extremity, probably corresponds to a subcutaneous metastatic deposit. In the lower extremities, there is a small new focus of moderate uptake within the distal metastasis of the right femur.


Progressive metastatic disease as indicated above.

It was a hard day--a long day for Jason, and then such news at the end. Dear Heavenly Father, please be near and comfort us at this time. Lord, we know that you can heal Jason. In your mercy please touch and heal him. Amen.
Praying for a cure.

Love in Christ,

P.S. Jason still feels fine--still not complaining--just an occasional headache and now there is a spot on his back that hurts him. He has had several friends over tonight and I hear him laughing even from down here in the basement. He said that they are hoping to go to see a movie tomorrow night.

Friday, March 25, 2005 4:18 PM CST

Hi Everyone,
Thanks so much for stopping by and checking on Jason and for your prayers. Your messages are so encouraging. It means so much to us to know that so many are praying for him. Sorry I haven't updated for awhile. We drove up to East Tennessee to visit grandparents for a few days. I'm still not completely caught up with laundry, but we have been back since Tuesday evening.

With the new experimental medicine (PTK - anti-angiogenesis drug)that Jason started taking a week ago on Thursday--by last Sunday, Jason had noticed that the tumors that we can see on his arm and shoulder were softer and a little smaller. On Monday, even I could tell a difference in size. The visible tumors now seem smaller and softer which seems good. They are still there though. I haven't noticed them getting any smaller over the rest of the week. He had to go yesterday and get another week's supply of PTK as well as a chest X-ray. Next Wednesday will be a very long day for Jason. As part of the drug study, he will have to be at the clinic to have a small amount of blood drawn 8 times over an 8 hour period. He will also have another PET scan done and will have to drink more of that yucky chalky contrast solution. On Thursday, he has to go in for 1 more blood draw and for the other antiangiogenesis drug - Avastin- to be given IV. Please pray for Jason concerning these 2 days and that the PET scan will show improvement.

A couple of Jason's friends are in for spring break. He loves having them come to visit. Without friends life sure would be boring, would'n't it? After playing his favorite video game constantly for many months it is starting to get old to him and he has voiced that he is getting bored with it. That game has kept him busy for so many months. I don't know what he will do without it.

Please continue to pray for Jason to be healed. Thank you for caring. I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter weekend celebrating the Risen Savior.

Love in Christ,

Friday, March 18, 2005 9:04 AM CST

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for stopping by to check on Jason and for your prayers for him. Yesterday was a long day. Jason had to drink the chalky contrast at 7:50. Then we left our house at 8:00 for the 9:00 CT scan. He had that done and then we had to go to a different facility for the MRI at 11:00 and then on to the doctor's office where we waited more than an hour. We didn't get home til 3:00PM.

The scans show that Jason's cancer is growing and spreading in the lymph nodes of the retroperitoneal area in his abdomen. There are many small tumors in that area growing together so it was hard to measure size. The largest single area is about the size of a postage stamp. At this point it has not spread to any organs. It is also spreading toward the bone of his illiac crest. He has not complained of pain in those areas. The MRI of his head was normal so the scans showed no sign of cancer there (don't know why he has been having more headaches)and his blood counts once again were completely normal with the Hematocrit-46, White Blood Cells 4.8 and the platelets 204,000. It was a relief to us that the MRI was normal and that the blood counts were still good. Certainly, we expected tumor growth even though we were hoping it wouldn't, but it was still difficult hearing that the cancer is spreading.

Jason took his first dose of the investigational (antiangiogenic) drug after we ate in the cafeteria at the hospital and then we left to come home. It made him nauseous and he threw up when we got to our house. He took medicine for the nausea and this just knocked him out. He slept until about 9:00 PM and then got up for 3 hours and went back to sleep. He must take 3 tablets each morning. They gave us enough for 1 week. In 7 days Jason has to go back to the clinic to get more medicine. Then in 14 days he will have to stay at the clinic for 8 hours. On this 8 hour day is when he will get the IV of Avastin--also an antiangiogenic.

Please pray that Jason can tolerate this medicine and that it works to stop & shrink tumor growth. Pray that God would heal Jason. Our God is an awesome God. He is still in control. We praise Him for each new day. He thank Him for blessing us with Jason.

In Christ,

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 11:37 PM CST

Thank you all for praying. It means so much to us. We still have heard nothing about the results of last week's PET scan. I know they must have results. Maybe they are waiting until tomorrow's appointment to tell us. Even Jason has been asking if we have heard anything yet. At times like this--my imagination can just run wild. After all, we do know that there are cancerous lumps that we can see on his body. I won't even mention what I've thought about Jason's cancer spreading. He seems fine--just had more headaches. Just trying to stay calm and hope that the news we receive tomorrow won't be bad.

Tomorrow Jason will have a CT scan with contrast(more chalk to drink)of his chest and abdomen and an MRI of his head. Two nights ago he asked for something for his headache. It is the first time that he asked for something and said that he is tired of having a headache, that he has had it constantly for a week. But the next day he said that the headache really just comes and goes and he hasn't needed anything else for pain. Please pray that we don't receive devastating news tomorrow. I hope and pray that the cancer hasn't spread further. He starts the first trial drug tomorrow. Pray for good response and no bad side effects. Thank you for caring. Please be merciful to us Lord and spare our precious son.

Thursday, March 10, 2005 0:31 AM CST

Hi Everyone,

Thank you once again for all your prayers and the encouraging messages in the guestbook. I know that God hears and answers our prayers. We just keep praying for healing for Jason.

On Monday, Jason went to the new doctor, a research oncologist. After reassurance that he could drop out of the study at any time and that the main side effect is high blood pressure, which may not be a problem for a slim young man like Jason, who normally has low blood pressure and that nausea is not usually a problem, he signed the consent form. It is a Phase I trial of 2 antiangiogenesis drugs -- PTK787/ZK222584 (PTK) in combination with Bevacizumab (Avastin) in Patients with Refractory and/or Advanced Malignancies. I imagine that he is probably one of the first rhabdomyosarcoma patients on this trial. He receives a PTK tablet every morning. and then, every 2 weeks, I think, Avastin IV. Not sure, but I think its every 2 weeks that he has to spend 8 hours there (but with a 2 hour break for lunch) to check blood levels of the drug. That will mean a 10 hour day since it is at least an hour to and an hour back during rush hour. He might get really tired of such long days.

Of course, before he can even start the trial, he will have to have scans done. They have to see what is there right now so that they can see how effective the trial is. They can't do the PET scan and the CT scan at the same facility. Since the PET will be charged to research, it must be done at one place and since my husband works at a hospital, the CT must be done at an his hospital to be covered on our insurance. That's kind of hard, since it really could be done at one place at the same time. He must drink 2 bottles of the chalky contrast liquid for the PET scan
---don't understand that--always for the PET scan he has just gotten the radioactive glucose IV, but not chalky stuff to drink. The people doing the CT say that he must drink 2 bottles of their own chalky contrast liquid. He didn't think that he could drink that much chalky liquid(4 bottles) for both scans in one day, so the PET will be done at 9:00 this Friday and the CT will be done 3/17-- the day he starts taking the PTK tablets. It is really kind of scary to me for him to be getting scans again. It has been 3 months since the last ones and now he has the lumps that we can see and we just wonder what is going on inside--it's like I want to know, but I'm afraid to find out. Please--please pray that there are no more tumors found. He mentioned tonight, just tonight, that he is having more headaches with pressure behind his left eye--oh dear Lord, please don't let it be the cancer. I probably should go ahead and call the doctor about this--they may want to do an MRI of Jason's head.

The research oncologist also spoke about the drug Yondelis. It is a new chemotherapy without the usual side-effects that is approved in Europe, but not here. This doctor said that he might be able to get it for compassionate use for Jason. It seems that the doctor would love to have a patient on it, but I haven't looked up anything about it. He looked closely and actually read the information that I mentioned on here about the monoclonal antibody 8H9 and said he would check into it and seemed very interested. He says he knows people at Sloan-Kettering where that trial is being conducted.

By the way, they did blood counts and Jason's hematocrit is 44.7 -- two weeks ago it was 42, his platelets are 212,000 (they were 207,000) and his WBC is 3.8 K/uL(it was 3.5). All were really good. I know it isn't any thing the same as actually having a bone marrow biopsy done--but at least the counts are good and aren't dropping.

Jason has been enjoying having friends come by. They all went out again tonight to see a movie at Opry Mills.

Please pray that God will heal Jason. Perhaps God will use these new medicines to heal him. We are thankful that Jason is willing to try this. With him refusing chemotherapy because of the side effects, there just aren't many options left. Our lives are in God's loving hands. We trust in Him.

In Christ,

Sunday, March 6, 2005 11:11 PM CST

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for stopping by to check on Jason. I apologize for not updating sooner. We had been waiting to tell Jason test results, but he has been too busy having fun with friends. Thank you so much for your concern and for your prayers for Jason.

Things have not changed for Jason as far as we can tell--but very concerned that things may be happening and that tumors may be growing internally beside the 4 lumps we can see. With no chemo they would just growing unchecked, unless the LORD stops them. This is a very aggressive cancer. The new oncologist didn't call at all for over a week. Finally, David just went to the office on Thursday and sat and waited for someone to tell him results of the tests.

The results were not good, but probably to be expected.
The tumor tissue was negative on all tests: for estrogen and progesterone receptors, Her-2, epidermal growth factor receptor, CD117, and CD34. This means that none of these targeted therapies will work. The doctor was not there in the office. There is a Phase I (Phase I studies test dosage) study of experimental drug PTK787/ZK222584 in Combination wtih Bevacizumab (Avastin) in patients with refractory and or advanced malignancies that the doctor would like Jason to try, but it was already full. It is antiangiogenesis therapy -- hopefully to stop the formation of blood vessels in the tumor. One patient dropped out of the study this week. Since the doctor was out of town, he doesn't even know the spot came open. David asked them to hold the place for Jason.

Jason has had company and we haven't told him any of this yet. His girlfriend was here this weekend. Saturday night he and several of his friends got together and went to a movie at Opry Mills. Perhaps we can tell Jason about this on Sunday. It is Sunday night and we still haven't told him about test results--his best friend Josh S. is on spring break and still here so it will just have to wait. Jason will enjoy Josh being home this week. If Jason choses to participate in the Phase I trial, he will have to sign a consent form. They monitor effectiveness of the treatment with PET scans and all this would be at no charge to us. David made an appointment for Monday at 11:00AM. Jason will be worked into the doctor's lunch hour. I don't know if it is worth it to put Jason through something like this with the many visits to the office it will require to be on a trial, but this is not chemotherapy--so nausea is not the primary side effect. Perhaps it could stop or slow down the cancer. As always, it is up to Jason.

It seems as if we actually avoid the subject of Jason's cancer. He doesn't want to talk about it. He just wants to play his computer games and instant message his friends and talk and laugh with them when they come here. I am so overcome with sadness. I haven't taken the Christmas tree down--thinking that Jason won't be with us when we put it up next year, but I guess I'm going to have to take it down soon because sometimes I just sit and look at it and cry. You know, even when your children are grown and gone you always expect they will come home for Christmas.

I found this PubMed Article that talks about Monoclonal Antibody 8H9 that actually was positive in 28 of 29 rhabdomyosarcomas, but was nonreactive with normal tissues. This is what we had hoped would happen with the tests they did on Jason's tumor tissue. I thought I would ask this research oncologist that Jason is seeing about this:

The monoclonal antibody 8H9 has been radiolabeled and is being used in a Phase I trial at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and at National Cancer Institue in patients with refractory, recurrent or advanced CNS or Leptomeningeal Cancer including rhabdomyosarcoma--in the study it is injected intrathecally for these types of CNS cancer:

Please pray concerning this doctor's appointment and Jason's choices concerning future treatment and that if he chooses to do the Phase I Trial--that it will be effective in stopping the cancer. Pray that researchers will find better treatments for this deadly cancer.

I know that I don't have to ask you to continue to pray. I know that you all are constantly praying. Thank you for your faithfulness in praying and your love and concern for Jason and our family. I know that God cares. I know that God can heal. I pray that in His mercy that God will spare Jason's life for His glory. Regardless of what happens--we will praise the Lord.

Love in Christ,

Tuesday, February 22, 2005 8:07 AM CST

Thank you once again for your continued prayers. It means the world to us that you care. Thank you also for the messages left in the guestbook. We read and reread them and they are so encouraging. Thank you. We were thrilled that Jason did not need a transfusion yesterday. His blood counts were normal. His hematocrit was 42, his platelets were 260,000, and his white count was 3.5. He was so convinced that his counts were low because he had bled and bruised more when his port was last accessed and the biopsy of the tumor on his arm was done and so we were convinced that his bone marrow was filled with cancer cells. So it is such a relief. We praise the Lord that he has heard our prayers.

We (David, Jason and I) met with the director of Alive Hospice. It was very difficult hearing all he had to say, but I felt that it was good that we met with him. If Jason's health deteriorates and he is in pain and suffering, (after all--he has been given a terminal prognois), hospice can help. We just still continue to pray for healing.

The new oncologist that Jason saw was very nice. Of course, he didn't minimize the situation--relapsed rhabdomyosarcoma is a dire situation. He has over 40 phase I clinical trials that he can try. Phase I is the first testing in humans and it is mainly to determine therapeutic dose. This week they will be testing Jason's tumor to see which ones might be the most effective. Who knows--perhaps, Lord willing, one of these could offer hope of a cure that none of the currently accepted chemotherapy can. Being on a clinical trial is pretty demanding, as there are extra stays and visits just for checking blood levels of the test drug. Please pray for Jason concerning this decision and for the doctors as they test Jason's tumor. Jason doesn't want anything that will cause him to be nauseous all the time. He wants to be able to enjoy visiting his friends. Some of the Phase I trials are targeted therapy that may have fewer side effects. On the way home, Jason said, "Mom, don't get your hopes up that there will be a cure. You're just setting yourself up to be disappointed." His hopes have been dashed so many times. But so many people are praying for Jason, and God hears prayer and God is able to heal. Pray that God would heal Jason completely here on earth.

March 2, 2005
It has been more than a week since Jason saw the new doctor. It was Monday a week ago and today is Wednesday. We still have heard nothing from the doctor concerning the tests on the tissue sample. Continuing our prayers.

Love in Christ,
Pam - Jason's mom

Wednesday, February 16, 2005 9:22 PM CST

Dear Friends who are praying for Jason,

Thank you so much for caring and praying for our dear son. We are still praying for complete healing here on earth, despite the fact that more of these pea-sized lumps are appearing. It has been over a week since he noticed the first lump on his upper left arm which was biopsied and found to be cancerous. Then early last week he noticed a lump on his left chest. Today he told me that there are 2 more lumps, one on his shoulder and another one on his chest.

He spoke with a new doctor today. This doctor does phase I trials. He talked to Jason about monoclonal antibodies. We need to get a sample of Jason's tumor from Vanderbilt and take it to him and he can actually test the antibodies on Jason's tumor to see if any of them work. Jason will also get blood counts and most likely a transfusion on Monday also. Please pray that somehow--the antibodies will work and that Jason has no trouble with the transfusion if he has to have one.

Jason also has a cold. In his weakened state any virus is very hard on him. He really does not need to be around people who are sick right now.

Thank you so much for your continued prayer for Jason. It really does mean the world to us. Our God is an awesome God. He is all-powerful and merciful and He loves us. I know that He is able to heal Jason. I keep praying that He will do that to His glory.

In Christ,

Wednesday, February 9, 2005 3:01 PM CST

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for continuing to pray for Jason. I have not been wanting to put the latest news here, but knew that I had to eventually.

Jason had a wonderful trip to Birmingham. I was so happy to have him home again Sunday night. Sunday night he told us that he noticed a pea-sized lump on his left arm. What else could it be but cancer. On Monday they did a fine needle biopsy of the lump and within an hour they called us and told us that it is cancerous--more rhabdomyosarcoma. Jason is still thinking of what he will do about scans and today I asked about it, if there is only that one lump, perhaps it could be removed and radiated. He told me that he noticed another lump just today on the left side of his chest. These aren't deep tumors, but we have no idea of what is happening internally. I think that Jason is leaning more toward no more scans right now thinking that not knowing would be better. This is a terrible cancer and research for it is not funded--rare cancers don't get much money. He is no longer in remission.

God's blessings to all. Thank you all for stopping by to check on Jason and thank you for your continued prayers. We need a miracle.

Love in Christ,
Pam - Jason's grateful mom.
No matter what the future holds, I have been blessed.

Friday, February 4, 2005 4:35 AM CST

Hi everyone,

It has been awhile since I updated this page and thought I should, as I know that you all are checking in often and we so appreciate that you care and that you pray to the Great Physician on behalf of our dear son.

Jason is still feeling fine. We were very thankful that the blood counts he had done a few weeks ago were normal as we have already reported. This is, of course, nothing like doing all the scans and receiving a report of clear scans. Thank you all for continuing to pray that Jason remains in remission and that all the cancer cells are gone forever.

Jason is driving down to Birmingham, Alabama, tomorrow (Friday) to visit his girlfriend, Katie, who goes to Sanford Universtiy. Her aunt lives nearby and Jason will stay there. This is a first for Jason. It is about a 4 hour drive away and naturally I am concerned for his safety, but happy that he is willing to venture out to do something so unusual for him. It would be so easy for him to just withdraw into himself and stay in his room. Since becoming a teen he has been quiet and thoughtful, keeping a lot inside. I often feel so distant from him. I ask him how he feels and he says, "I feel fine, Mom. Why wouldn't I feel fine? Why do you keep asking?" There is no discussion of cancer with him anymore, since he does feel fine and shows no signs of relapse. Oh dear Heavenly Father, make Jason's life a miracle showing your healing power.

This year has made him mostly a homebody. He hasn't gotten out a whole lot--just lived in his room and played a lot of video games as the world went on around him and his friends went off to college. I think that he is going down to visit Katie for Valentine's Day, only just a little early. I think it is very sweet of Katie to put her heart out there for a boy the doctors have said won't survive. We continue to pray for miraculous healing, so that the doctors will just have to say--we just don't understand it--but that God has healed Jason. Really, even with all that medical doctors do--God is still the one who is in control.

God's blessings to all. Thank you all for stopping by to check on Jason and thank you for your continued prayers.

Love in Christ,
Pam - Jason's grateful mom.
No matter what the future holds, I have been blessed.

P.S. I wanted to share a few more websites of rhabdokids with you. We are praying for the doctors who do research on rhabdo--that there will be major breakthroughs in treatment soon--this year. This is a terrible cancer.

Brandon is an 8 year survivor of metastatic alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma and an inspiration-- www.caringbridge.org/canada/brandonbarrett/

Garrett went to heaven this week. His parents are heartbroken-- www.caringbridge.org/tx/garrettburnham/

Saturday, January 22, 2005 3:56 AM CST

Dear Friends,
Thank you so much for praying for Jason. He had an appointment at the oncology clinic Friday, Jan. 21. This is the first time that we have been back there since the week he quit treatment, which was the first week in December. He only went to get blood drawn for blood counts. We praise the Lord that his blood counts are normal and his hematocrit/hemoglobin is the highest it has been in over a year.

For the past year Jason has been been monitered very closely with bone marrow biopsies, PET scans, MRI's and CT scans. Since he says that he never wants to have chemo again there are no plans to do any of these tests. The doctor we saw today asked about doing scans and Jason said that he saw no reason to (as in--no sign of cancer). If the cancer ever relapses in bone marrow--by the time his counts start to drop--his bone marrow would be extensively involved. His blood counts could even be normal at the beginning of a relapse. Just doing blood counts is not really much monitering. Please continue to pray that Jason never relapses and that all the cancer cells are gone forever. He has been through so much.

He has gained a little weight, but he is still very thin. He will probably try to cut back on eating as he doesn't want to become overweight.

The last of the kids his age--freshmen in college--is leaving on Sunday. It may be a lonely time for Jason, even though he still stays in touch with them on the computer with instant messaging.

Thank you so much for stopping by to check on Jason. Really I can't thank you enough. I wish that I could take the time to thank each and everyone of you who has stopped by and those who have signed the guest book. You are so encouraging. I have sent some thank you e-mails, but I always seem to lose my place in the guestbook. We are so thankful and praise God for his mercy in that Jason is doing well and actually feeling great. Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for Jason's complete healing. This kind of cancer relapses so often--pray that God has already healed him.

In Christ,

Friday, January 14, 2005 8:43 PM CST

Hi Everyone,

Things are pretty quiet around our house. It has turned cold again here in Tennessee. We had temperatures near 70 last week and they are now in the 20's. Most of Jason's friends who are his age have gone back to college. There are still a few who will be here another week or so, but no one has visited him today. I'm sure that he is still instant messaging all of them. We've had so many of his friends come to vist, watch movies, play video games, sleep over, go out to eat almost every day since early December. I love to hear Jason talking and laughing with his friends. It is music to my ears. There are still friends who will be able to come by now, but just not as many. Jason loved having his friends here and all the activity.

I haven't written here lately because Jason feels fine. He has no complaints. I just noticed today that his hair has grown in thick enough that I can no longer see his scalp. For the first time since last March when his hair all fell out, his head is completely covered. He looks good and seems to feel good, but with every little cough or even the sign of a limp, I pray (I'm praying constantly) that the cancer cells are already completely gone and that there aren't any in his lungs, bone marrow, foot, or anywhere. All it takes is one rebel cell. I pray for a hedge of protection around all our children.

I have finally made the appointment with the pediatric hematology/oncology clinic. It is for next Friday at 11:00AM. They want him to come in occasionally to have blood counts done. They will check his red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets--there are no checks for cancer cells--no more scans are supposed to be done. If the counts are low it could be a sign of relapse. Please pray that they would be just fine. I really dread going back to the clinic. For me, although everyone (doctors and nurses) are very nice, it is just a lot of bad memories and them telling us that there is no hope. I don't know how Jason feels about going. Our hope is in the living God who made heaven and earth with just a word and with just a word Our God can heal any disease. We trust in Him.

Thank you so much for stopping by to check on Jason. I know I should probably update every day or two. We are so thankful and praise God for his mercy in that Jason is doing well. Thank you for your faithfulness in praying for Jason's complete healing. This kind of cancer relapses so often--pray that God has already healed him.

In Christ,

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 7:47 PM CST

Thanks for stopping by to check on Jason and for your prayers for him. It means more than we can say that you care and that you continue to lift him up to the only one who can heal him. No matter what physicians do or say, God is still the one who is in control.

Jason is feeling fine, with no complaints and has truly enjoyed having his friends home from college. Some have left to go back already and the rest will leave within the next week. It will be a letdown after all the excitement of his birthday and Christmas with friends here every day and so much going on. We are so thankful that he has been in good health for the holidays.

Please continue to pray for continued remission. The cancer he had is so cruel--in that it often relapses and you know that his oncologists say that it will. We don't talk about it at all. We just keep praying and hoping that God has healed Jason already.

Please pray for this little boy--Garrett Burnham--another
caringbridge child with rhabdomyosarcoma. He is 9 years old and has struggled with this cancer for almost 2 years. http://www3.caringbridge.org/tx/garrettburnham/

Thank you for your guestbook entries and your visits to Jason's site. The encouragement you give helps so much.

In Christ,

Saturday, January 8, 2005 0:59 AM CST

Hi everyone,
I'm sorry it has been a while since I have written here. Thank you all for checking back and for your faithfulness in praying for Jason. We appreciate you so much.

Jason has been enjoying having all his friends in for Christmas. Every day his friends are here keeping him company. Most nights one of them is sleeping over. He seems to be feeling great right now, though he does tire more easily. He has gone out to play paintball with his friends and tried to play just a rough as they--he came back with big whelts just like everyone else and by the next morning the whelts were gone and there were no bruises, so he must have a good platelet count. I fussed at his brother, Justin, and asked why they didn't go easy on Jason. He said, "Mom, he didn't go easy on us and he would be mad at us if he even thought we went easy on him and besides--he just charged at our whole team--just out in the open. What were we supposed to do?" So Jason, right now, is just being the Jason we've always known--daring and reckless.

They want him to come back down to Vanderbilt just to have some blood drawn in the middle of January, which is almost here. If his counts start dropping, it would be a sign of a relapse. I haven't made the appointment yet. He seems to be feeling great. He was very tired after playing paintball--but for the last year he has had to just lay around so much that he doesn't have much endurance--and the chemo has really been hard on him. I've asked him if he is in any pain. He says that he is not.

Last February when he was diagnosed with this terrible cancer, things looked so bad for him that we were not even sure that he would be alive for his birthday or for Christmas. We have been blessed to have him here in good health for this year. We do praise God that He has been merciful to us. We had always taken so much for granted, I guess. Just being together--all 6 of us--I am so grateful.

Please continue to pray for healing--perhaps God has already healed him. Pray that he doesn't relapse. He is beginning to have some hope. One of his friends said that Jason spoke of going to college next fall--pray that he can live, go to college, for complete healing--a miracle.

Love in Christ,

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 3:36 AM CST

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Jason and Justin spent the night at Steven's house for New Year's Eve and today Jason has been away with friends most of the day. He seems to be feeling fine and doesn't have any complaints. Please continue to pray that the cancer he had stays in remission and that God has already healed him completely. Thank you for checking in to see how he is doing. We appreciate you all so much for caring and for praying.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 3:36AM

Well, Christmas has come and gone once again and we face the beginning of a New Year. We traveled to East Tennessee over Christmas and surprisingly--they didn't get snow there in the mountains, but Middle Tennessee got snow and ice. It was extremely cold both places. The lady who fed our 2 dogs and 2 bunnies said that their water kept freezing.

Jason enjoyed seeing all his grandparents, his aunt and uncle and cousins, Drew and Hannah. Drew is almost exactly one year younger than Jason with a birthday on 12/13/86. Our best friends came to visit us and we had pizza together one night. Jason, Justin and Josh spent one night at their house for a birthday party for their oldest son, Daniel, who is 20 now. David's friend, Chris, offered to take Jason up in the airplane, but we stayed pretty busy and it was so cold to think about going up flying. We had Christmas dinner at my mom's house and my aunt and uncle came and several of my cousins stopped by to visit. David's mother arranged for us to stay at her Aunt Jackie's trailer while Jackie was gone, and it has plenty of room for all of us. The kids love staying there--a TV in every room and so warm and cozy and within walking distance to the Mall and several fast food restaurants. It is hard to get them to go anywhere else. Jenny was disappointed that there was no snow there--but it would have been too cold to play in it and she ran a fever for a couple of days and felt bad.

I contacted a wish granting organization for Jason and his wish has been granted--he wanted a paintball gun. They sent him a Tippmann 98--just what he wanted and a huge box of other gifts. So he is ready for paintball. I just want to thank those folks at Kid's Wish Network for all the hard work they do and especially Madelaine, his wish coordinator. She has been so wonderful and so patient when Jason delayed for months in making his wish. Thank you so much.

Jason seems to be feeling great right now. He has had friends over constantly since we got back. It is wonderful to hear him talking and laughing with his friends. He has a little cough -- hopefully just a cold. He says that he doesn't understand why he stays so tired all the time--9 months of chemo might be the reason. Pray for a restoration of his immune system and his energy level. On 11/17/04, a little over a month ago all his scans and the bone marrow biopsy were clear. Please continue to pray that this remission will last and that God has miraculously healed him just as we all have prayed. All healing is from God and especially with this cancer--healing is definitely a Miracle.

Thank you so much for all the Birthday cards, e-mails, notes, gifts, and pager messages that you have left for Jason. It means so much to us to know that you care so much and that you are praying for we know that God answers prayer. Thank you for stopping by here to check on Jason. As we approach this New Year--make a committment to not take for granted those you love--give them a hug and let them know that you care and remember that even a long life here on earth is very short in comparison to eternity--be sure about your salvation--and tell others about Jesus Christ, who died for each one of us for our sins and rose again. If we believe on Him--we have the hope and promise of eternal life with Him in heaven. He said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but by me."

In Christ's love,
Pam Archer

Best wishes for a Blessed New Year!!!

In Christ,

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 9:38 PM CST

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for stopping by to check on Jason. We are totally overwhelmed by the number of people who have visited the site and left messages for him and the cards that have been sent and for the phone calls. So many are praying for him
Thank you, seems so inadequate. I want to respond personally to each of you, but that may take awhile. Jason has not been back to the oncology clinic, but you know that the prognosis that they have given Jason is very grim. We have been praying constantly since the beginning that God would heal him. This is completely out of our control. Our lives are all in God's hands and He is in control of this and every situation. No problem (no cancer) is too big or too hard for God. He is all-powerful. He is able to heal Jason and we look to Him, as we pray for miraculous healing, in which God Himself is glorified.

Last night a wonderful group of people, part of the Tribe of Judah- a motorcycle ministry of dedicated Christians came to our house--driving from over an hour away to pray for Jason. They have been visiting the trauma unit of a hospital in Nashville and praying for injured people there and seeing miraculous healing. They spoke words of healing and words of encouragement to Jason. It was powerful. We are thankful that they came. It meant a lot to us.

One of Jason's friends came over this morning, he went ourt to eat lunch with him, and tonight he has gone to someone's house to watch a movie. He seems to be feeling great right now and talks about getting back in shape.

Thank you so much for praying for Jason. Please leave him a message of encouragement on the guest page. We can never thank you enough for all the prayers and everything that you all have done for our family this year. God bless each one of you.

May you have a Wonderful Christmas and a New Year full of God's blessing.

In Christ,

Friday, December 17, 2004 9:37 AM CST

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for stopping by to check on Jason. We are totally overwhelmed by the number of people who have visited the site and left messages for him and the cards that have been sent and for the phone calls. So many are praying for him. Just to saying thank you, seems so inadequate. I want to respond personally to each of you, but that may take awhile. Jason has not been back to the oncology clinic, but you know that the prognosis that they have given Jason is very grim. We have been praying constantly since the beginning that God would heal him. This is completely out of our control. Our lives are all in God's hands and He is in control of this and every situation. No problem (no cancer) is too big or too hard for God. He is all-powerful. He is able to heal Jason and we look to Him, as we pray for miraculous healing, in which God Himself is glorified.

This is the day after Jason's birthday. Thank you for praying for him on this special day. Because his birthday is so close to Christmas, we've always thought of him as a special Christmas gift from God to us. Of course, each of our children is a gift of God--a special blessing. We had hoped to surprise him, but he was just too suspicious and was looking for clues--so he wasn't really surprised. So many of his friends came over. I probably can't even list all the friends who came, but I'll try. Jordan, Josh S., Josh W., Josh B., Trevor, Patrick, Zach, Steven, Walter, Jenny, Julie, Alisha, Katie, Chelsea, Chris, Stephanie, Keri, and Garrett, as well as Terri R. who teaches that age in Sunday School, all came. I probably left someone out. He really enjoyed seeing his friends and they had a great time just getting together. I loved seeing them. Jason has a great group of friends and I love all of them. We have really missed seeing them since they left for college. I hope that they can come over a lot while they are in for Christmas break.

Jason, in some ways, is acting like he did before cancer. Stubborn. He spent the night at Steven's house on Wednesday night. He absolutely refused to wear or take a coat even though the temperature was below freezing, claiming he would be outside for only a few minutes. He wore a short-sleeved t-shirt & pants. Not the best thing, but what can we do? We can't make him continue with chemo--we can't even make him wear a coat. All we can do is pray for him.

Small update: 12/18/04 --Jason spent the night at his friend Patrick's grandmother's last night. I hope that he took (and wore) his coat. We haven't heard from him today. 12/18/04--Jason is home again. He did at least take his coat. He says that this was his best birthday ever.

Thank you once again for your faithfulness in praying for our dear son. We are so thankful that we could celebrate this special day with Jason.

Be sure and let those you love--know it. Tell them you love them and hug them tightly. Life is precious.

Wishing everyone a Wonderful Christmas and a New Year full of the blessings of God.

In Christ's love,
Pam - Jason's mom

Tuesday, December 14, 2004 3:20 PM CST

I am so amazed by how many have stopped by to wish Jason a happy birthday. Thank you so very much. We are just so grateful---and to think all of you are praying for him, too. It just means the world to us that you care. I read the posts to him a few at a time each day and I hope to get around to personally thanking each one of you who has left a message. God bless each of you in a special way this holiday season.

The newspaper article about Jason came out today, 12/14/04. The link is:

or go to www.tennessean.com and type the keyword PACT into the search.

We still look to God with eyes of faith and are praying for a miracle.

Saturday, December 11, 2004 3:47 PM CS
Hi everyone,
Thanks once again for stopping by to check on Jason. He has stayed at home this week and been up all night most nights playing on-line computer games. We don't fuss at him about the late hours as we used to before he was sick. It seems that at night is when many of his friends are on their computers playing. He is not complaining of any pain or any other symptoms, so we hope that he is still in remission.

He has mentioned that he needs to earn money. They could still use him at the hospital as a computer tech, perhaps 1 or 2 days a week, and it might really be good for him to get out of the house. On chemo, it was impossbile for him to work or go to college. He could do either now, and though it is possible, the motivation just isn't there for him to try college courses. Working at the hospital might be good for him.

His birthday is this week. He will be 19. The year of his birth was so special--he was due on Christmas day, but was born 9 days early. We were so happy to have our baby boy, so perfect, so tiny.

His friends are arriving home for a long Christmas break after their first semester in college. I spoke with one of them for a while when he dropped by the other night and I could just see how much he is changing and making plans for the future--what he will major in. We talked about how the first semester went, college food, etc. After he went upstairs to talk to Jason--I cried. I wish that I could be having the same conversation with Jason about his first semester at college. I so wish Jason's life could be moving on, just like theirs are, instead of stuck here fighting cancer. We never in our worst dreams could have imagined anything like this happening. Please pray that these friends (his best friends) will still have time to spend with Jason during this busy season of the year.

Today, Jason is going out to the big mall, Opry Mills, to see a movie with friends.

Thank you once again for stopping by, for your love and concern and your many prayers for Jason and our family. We appreciate, so much, that you are praying and asking others to pray for Jason. God does hear our prayers. God still does miracles. God bless each one of you in this special season of the year as we remember how God sent His Son as a little baby and that by believing in Him, that He lived a perfect life and then died on the cross for our sins, we have hope.

In Christ,

Thursday, December 9, 2004 0:21 AM CST

Hi Everyone!
Jason has been at home the last couple of days. he had a friend spend the night for 2 nights and they have been playing video games as they laughed and talked. He has had a ravenous appetite--just can't seem to get enough to eat and I'm sure that food tastes better now than it has since chemo started. He had a headache this evening, but I think that it may be from lack of sleep.

If Jason is willing, he could try an oral chemo--topotecan--which is one of the effective chemos he has received recently. One lady e-mailed me to say that she has been on this oral chemo as maintainance for over 9 months after relapse and being off treatment with the same kind of cancer. She said that she has had no side-effects, not even nausea, and clear scans. When I asked Jason's oncologist she said (in front of him-which could really discourage him from trying this) that it could cause nausea and that if he wants to try it that perhaps he could start in mid January. His next chemo week should have been Christmas week, but, since he has quit all the IV chemo, I thought then might be a good time to try the oral chemo--if Jason is willing. Once again, we don't know what is best and the decision is out of our hands.

Jenny's GA class of about 30 little girls came by tonight to sing Christmas carols to Jason. It was so sweet of them. Jenny knew about them coming, but she didn't know that they were also bringing gifts to Jason and our family. That was a big surprise. We were overwhelmed by all the gifts of food and gifts cards that they gave us. This will be plenty of snacks for Jason and his friends when they visit. If any of those in Jenny's class stop by here I want to thank you so much for this expression of your love for Jason and for us. I don't think that I can ever thank everyone enough for all you have done. Thank you all for praying for Jason all year.

Thank you all so much for stopping by to check on Jason and for the many prayers that you all have prayed for him. It means so much to us to know that you are praying for Jason. We are totally amazed at how many are praying and just so grateful that you care. God bless each of you. We are still praying for complete earthly healing for Jason. God is able to heal Jason. He is in complete control and we trust in Him.

Love in Christ,

Thursday, December 9, 2004 0:21 AM CST

Hi Everyone!
Jason has been at home the last couple of days. he had a friend spend the night for 2 nights and they have been playing video games as they laughed and talked. He has had a ravenous appetite--just can't seem to get enough to eat and I'm sure that food tastes better now than it has since chemo started. He had a headache this evening, but I think that it may be from lack of sleep.

If Jason is willing, he could try an oral chemo--topotecan--which is one of the effective chemos he has received recently. One lady e-mailed me to say that she has been on this oral chemo as maintainance for over 9 months after relapse and being off treatment with the same kind of cancer. She said that she has had no side-effects, not even nausea, and clear scans. When I asked Jason's oncologist she said (in front of him-which could really discourage him from trying this) that it could cause nausea and that if he wants to try it that perhaps he could start in mid January. His next chemo week should have been Christmas week, but, since he has quit all the IV chemo, I thought then might be a good time to try the oral chemo--if Jason is willing. Once again, we don't know what is best and the decision is out of our hands.

Jenny's GA class of about 30 little girls came by tonight to sing Christmas carols to Jason. It was so sweet of them. Jenny knew about them coming, but she didn't know that they were also bringing gifts to Jason and our family. That was a big surprise. We were overwhelmed by all the gifts of food and gifts cards that they gave us. This will be plenty of snacks for Jason and his friends when they visit. If any of those in Jenny's class stop by here I want to thank you so much for this expression of your love for Jason and for us. I don't think that I can ever thank everyone enough for all you have done. Thank you all for praying for Jason all year.

Thank you all so much for stopping by to check on Jason and for the many prayers that you all have prayed for him. It means so much to us to know that you are praying for Jason. We are totally amazed at how many are praying and just so grateful that you care. God bless each of you. We are still praying for complete earthly healing for Jason. God is able to heal Jason. He is in complete control and we trust in Him.

Love in Christ,

Monday, December 6, 2004 4:57 PM CST

Hi Everyone,
Thanks so much for stopping by to see how Jason is doing. I drove down to Smyrna last night in the rain to pick him up from his friend's house. I'd never been there before so needless to say I got lost once--just had to retrace my path. We had missed having him at home, and he seemed glad to be back.

Today he had a 6 week check-up with the surgeon. Every thing is healing just fine. This doctor, also seemed surprised that Jason's last scans were all clear, so that with the surgery, at least for now, Jason is in complete remission--which I've come to find, means that they can't detect any sign of cancer. As far as stopping chemo right now, Dr. Brock compared it to a race with Jason almost at the finish line when he quits and said that if the cancer returned that Jason might always wonder if completing the chemo would have made a difference. Jason just said something to the effect that he is ready to accept the consequences of his decision whatever the result.

One of the consequences of his decision to quit is that there will be no more scans unless Jason wants them. This is hard for me to accept--there will be no more clear scans and no more bad scans--there just will be NO scans, and we won't be able to tell what is happening, except with occasional blood counts. If he had finished treatment they would have wanted to do scans every 2-3 months for a long time.

Jason's birthday is coming up. He was born 9 days before Christmas in 1985. I don't know what we will do to celebrate his birthday, but it has to involve his good friends. Last year at this time we had no idea that he was so sick, but by February when he was diagnosed with this cancer he was in such bad shape--we didn't know if he would even be here for his birthday and Christmas. We are so thankful that he is still with us now, and yet tomorrow, for him, seems so uncertain. Please pray for this evil cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma) to never come back. Pray that Our Almighty Heavenly Father, who heals all our diseases, will heal Jason completely here on earth. Nothing is too hard for Him. I keep reading the stories where people were healed in the Bible. One man said, "If you are willing you can heal me." Jesus said, "I am willing. Be healed." One man brought his child for Jesus to heal, and Jesus asked, "Do you believe?" and the man said, "I believe. Help me in my unbelief." The 4 men carried their friend to Jesus and lowered him through the roof. That is what we are doing for Jason, carrying him to Jesus with our prayers and saying, "If you are willing you can heal him."

Thank you so much for caring and for your prayers for Jason to be healed.

Love in Christ,

Sunday, December 5, 2004 2:36 PM CST

Jason went to the Christmas formal on Friday night. He loaded up his computer in the car before he and his brothers left. He has spent the night at a friend's house for the last 2 nights. I have talked to him twice. This is the kind of freedom he wants--to be able to come and go without worrying about chemo. I hope that he will come home tonight.

I still wish that he would change his mind and do the last 3 rounds of chemo, but I don't really know what would be best. Thank you for your continued prayers for Jason's healing.

In Christ,

Thursday, December 2, 2004 6:20 AM CST

Hi everyone,

Jason decided today to quit chemotherapy after going to the clinic for 3 days this week for cytoxan-topotecan. We have always tried to get him to finish the week, but he had definitely made up his mind that this would be the last week, so he just wanted to quit today. He has been very nauseous, no medicines giving him any relief, and feels that the situation is hopeless concerning his surviving cancer. The plan had been for 3 more rounds lasting until the first week in February. For relapse the standard treatment is 8 cycles of Cytoxan-topotecan 5 days a week every 3 weeks. Jason completed 4 cycles 3 days. It is difficult seeing him quitting treatment when they have been effective, but at least now I don't have to watch him endure chemotherapy.

There's nothing more that we can do or say to him. I guess 8 cycles is not necessarily a magic number and perhaps what he has done will be enough to rid him of the cancer cells. All we can do is keep praying that he will not relapse. Actually the oncologist said that there may not be any more of the scans--if there is a relapse in bone marrow his blood counts will show it. Treatment had to end sometime. God can heal him whether he's had 5 or 8 cycles of chemo. I hope that he can have many good days and that he is completely healed.

Today is Friday, December 3. Jason got tickets for the Christmas formal at the school where he graduated. When this began as a week of chemo, he cancelled his plans and thought he couldn't go, but he has recovered enough from the 3 days of chemo that he is actually feeling great and he, Justin and Joshua all went to the formal. He will even be spending the night at a friend's house. We were in the clinic for a little while this morning--the oncologist said that Jason seemed much more relaxed as though a great burden had been lifted from him with the discontinuation of chemo. He doesn't even want to talk about starting chemo again.

With this caringbridge page, as you pray for Jason, you can have a face to connect with his name.

We are so amazed at how many have visited Jason's page here and at the number of messages left. Thank you all for caring and praying for our dear son.
I truly appreciate your prayers for Jason. All our days are in God's hands. He can heal Jason with just a word.

Love in Christ,

Hi Everyone,

I'm sorry that it has been so long since I posted and that I have left you
all wondering about Jason's scan results. We were out of town and I didn't
have access to a computer. Thank you so much for continuing to pray for
Jason. Jason wanted to visit his grandparents in East Tennessee before
Thanksgiving because all his friends will be in from college this week, so
Jason, two of his good friends(Steven and Patrick), Josh, Jenny and I all
left to go there last Thursday. David and Justin came up on Friday. David,
Jason, Justin and the two friends came back on Monday and Josh, Jenny and I
came back Tuesday night. My mom made an early Thanksgiving dinner for us
all on Sunday.

All the boys got out in the woods on my parent's farm and played paintball
one day. They stayed up late talking every night. They played video games
a lot. David's friend Chris took them all up in his 2-seater plane one at a
time, and Jason even got to land the plane twice. The clouds were low that
day so they didn't fly high, but stayed close to the airport. Jason seemed
to have a good time. David took Jason out to eat at Chili's(one of Jason's
favorites) on Monday night when they got back and Jason wolved down lots of
chips and salsa and said that it was the first time in nine months that he
hasn't been nauseous when he sat down to eat. I think there may have been a
few other times, but he doesn't remember them. This should have been chemo
week, but it was postponed to wait for scan results.

Praise the Lord!! All of Jason's scans were clear!!! This is a big answer
to prayer. The bone marrow biopsy including the genetic study, CT scan of
his chest, PET scan of his whole body, and MRI of his left foot were all
clear. This is the second time in a row these scans have been clear. Jason DID NOT have a spread of cancer to his brain. His brain scan in October was clear. He has had NO brain
tumors and NO surgery on his brain.

We should be rejoicing about the clear scans. What more could we ask for at
this point than clear scans? What we all really wish for, I guess, is for
someone to tell us that the cancer won't ever come back, but no one can do
that. Jason didn't seem thrilled to hear the news. When David told him
about the clear scans, Jason said, "It doesn't matter." I don't know what
he meant. Does it not matter to him because that one doctor said, at first
relapse in July, that there won't be a cure for Jason? Does Jason believe
that relapse is inevitable? Would he have rather not have had clear scans so
that he could just quit chemo? This Friday will be the day he will decide
about continuing. We would like for him to continue. Dr. Domm, the
oncologist we see most of the time now, would like for him to continue. It
is just 3 or 4 more rounds of Cytoxan-topotecan, just until February, but at
18 the decision is up to him.

Please continue to pray for miraculous healing. This cancer-Alveolar
Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) often develops resistance to chemotherapy and
relapses. Jason's life is in God's hands--and I know that God is able to
heal him.
Thank you so much for caring and praying for Jason.

In Christ,
- mom to Jason (18) Stage 4 ARMS with t(2,13) translocation; primary in left
foot, spread to bone marrow, dx and tx with VAC started on 2/6/04; clear
scans on 4/9/04; radiation to foot finished on 6/18/04; cancer cells back in
bone marrow on 7/30/04 so relapsed and changed to Cytoxan-topotecan and
after 2 rounds(about 6 weeks) scans were clear on 10/1/04, but Jason found a mass which was spread of rhabdo and was removed in
mid-October; latest scans 11/17/04 are all clear.

November 15, 2004

Hi everyone,

I haven't posted much lately. I'm sorry. Thank you all for praying for
Jason. I have felt pretty low since one of the mom's (whose son had primary
in left foot and died in May) told me that none of the kids with bone marrow
involvement has ever survived. It made me really sad. I hope it isn't
true-afraid it might be and I don't want it to be true. You know that all
(100%) of Jason's bone marrow was replaced with cancer cells at the time he
was diagnosed. Regardless, God can heal him.

Jason is pretty much the same, no problems, but every little cough, limp,
headache--I worry that the cancer is back or has spread. But he still
laughs and plays video and computer games with his friends. Sometimes I'm
in another room crying while he is laughing with his friends. I don't want
there to be a time when I can't hear his voice and see his face and touch
him. Halo 2, the newest game, is out now--he beat the game playing 15 hours
straight. He didn't go to sleep for over 24 hours that day. At one time we
would have fussed at him about staying up, not anymore.

Jason went on the high school fall retreat with our church this weekend. I
hope he had fun. He got back this evening.

He will have scans done this week on Wednesday, 10/17/04 starting at 1:00PM.
There will be a bone marrow biopsy, PET scan, MRI of his foot and a CT scan
of his chest. It makes me sick to think about the wait and then getting
results back. I would hate to be one of those oncologists who has to tell
the news. This is the first time he has had a CT of his chest since back in
Feb. The bone marrow was clear on 10/1. Will it still be? We are going to
visit my parents in East TN right after the scans, and Jason has invited to
of his friends to come. He thought they would enjoy walking in the woods,
where Jason played as a little child. Mom and Dad have 144 acres. I don't
know if I even want to hear results from the tests while we are up there.

We hope and pray for Jason to be healed. We've done all we can do and the
results are out of our hands. It matters so much and yet we are so

Love in Christ,

mom of Jason (18) Stage 4 ARMS in left foot and bone marrow dx and tx
with VAC started on 2/6/04; bone marrow clear 4/9; radiation to foot ended
6/18; back in bone marrow on 7/30 so relapsed and changed to
cytoxan-topotecan and after 2 rounds on 10/1/04 the bone marrow was clear
but Jason found a lump which was cancerous and was removed and cytoxan
topotecan continued, but Jason is still undecided about continuing chemo--He
will decide after these scans on 11/17/04


November 6, 2004

Hi everyone,
Thank you for praying so diligently for Jason. This week chemo went better than it has in the past and that is an answer to prayer.

Please pray for Jason as he is now strongly insisting that he wants to stop treatment. The oncologists have said that they want him to continue chemo until Feb. At the end of this week he said, "This week of chemo wasn't as bad as the last week I had chemo." It would be at the most 4 (weeks) more rounds of chemo. He says, "My life sucks and it is not going to get any better." The alternative chemo suggested by one oncologist this week is single agent therapy--palliative care-not curative. The chemo that he is on now is the best they can offer with any hope of a cure, although they have told him there will be no cure for him. The head of the pediatric oncology department is concerned that Jason not be pressured by anyone into continuing treatment. We have just been trying to encourage him to finish the course. If Jason were just a little boy, he would not even have a choice. At 18, the decision is up to him. I just need to be quiet and pray for Jason. It won't do any good for me to talk to him more about it now. That might just make him more stubborn in the decision to quit. We have no idea what this year of chemo has really been like for Jason. He keeps so much inside.

I know that God can heal him with or without the medicine, but I hate for him to quit early as long as the chemo is working. Jason will have repeat scans done on 11/19--pray they are clear. Thanksgiving week should be chemo week, but I asked if we could wait for the results of the scans before giving more chemo, so the next chemo will be given the first week of December if Jason is willing to continue.

Thank you for praying.

Love in Christ,

November 1, 2004

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for praying for Jason. Just wanted to remind you that Jason must have chemo each day this week. He is already dreading it--He wouldn't eat supper tonight and reminded me why with "you know what tomorrow is." Please pray that his nausea can be controlled, that he can hydrate himself so the wait for chemo isn't so long, that the chemo would continue to work and that no resistant cells ever develop and that Jason would be willing to continue treatment. Pray that he will be able to eat and that his blood counts come up--the topotecan chemo is very hard on blood counts. Pray for continued healing from his surgery. Thank you for being so faithful in praying for Jason.

Thanks so much for caring.

In Christ,

October 27, 2004

Thanks everyone, for praying for Jason. The surgery is over and Jason did fine. The surgeon said that the masses were cancerous--they haven't done all the studies but it is assumed that it is the same cancer. All of the cancerous tissue and surrounding area were removed. I asked the doctor today if if would be considered a second relapse and she doesn't. She considers this to be an isolated relapse in this particular area. He left the hospital only 3-4 hours after the surgery. He was even talking about going to church tonight, but I'm not sure that's a good idea. He is in some pain, but hasn't taken pain medicine yet.

I guess what we all need to pray for now is that the surgeon really got all the cancer and that Jason never relapses again.

Thank you so much for faithfully praying for Jason.

Love in Christ,

October 26, 2004

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 27, Jason is scheduled to have surgery. He must be at the hospital at 7AM, surgery should start before 9AM and will take 1 to 2 hours. They do want to keep him overnight, but Jason hopes to come home the same day. They will check the area of concern for cancer cells at the beginning of surgery and if there is cancer this drastic surgery will be completed. Certainly if it stops the cancer it will be worth it. We continue to pray, despite all the doctors have told us, that it is not cancer or that God would just take the cancer away--working a miracle. Pray for healing from the surgery and from the cancer. Thank you for praying for Jason.

In Christ,

October 23, 2004

Hi everyone,
Thank you all for your faithfulness in praying for our dear son Jason.
Jason had a regular clinic visit today. Both Dr. Frangoul and Dr. Domm came
in to talk with him and us. Dr. Frangoul wanted to make sure that Jason
wasn't feeling pressured into things. I, myself, only try to get him to
finish a cycle of chemo, now. His friends want him to not give up. Both
the urologist and the oncologists agree that we must assume that the mass
that Jason found is rhabdo (What else could it be?) so the urologist has set
up a date for surgery and Jason is willing to do this. There won't be a fine
needle biopsy. The surgery will be done next Wednesday. Jason is supposed
to stay overnight, but he(Jason) thinks he will be able to leave that day.
Jason is on the operating table, they will check a section of tissue to see
if it is rhabdo and if it is they will remove it all. An endocrinologist
will come by while Jason is in the hospital to talk to him and us about
hormone replacement. Even now, while it seems hopeless about this mass, I
still pray that it is not cancer or that the mass would just be gone.

Brother Josh is a 5 out of 6 match for Jason for an allenogenic bone marrow
transplant which is a good enough match to do a transplant, but not
perfect--but Jason is not interested so Dr. Frangoul said that there is no
need for Jason's other brother to be tested unless Jason changes his
mind--and bone marrow transplant, the whole process, sounds so horrendous
to me. If there were better results--if it brought more hope of a cure--it
might be worth it, but I just keep thinking of what Tammy, another child
with rhabdomyosarcoma had to go through. Dr. Frangoul said that Jason's
rhabdomyosarcoma is behaving amazingly like leukemia. That is what the
oncologist who did Jason's first bone marrow biopsy, called and said Jason
had--leukemia. There was 100% replacement of all blood making elements with
cancer cells that turned out to be rhabdo. The area with this mass is a
very common sanctuary site or haven for leukemia cells and is the reason why
boys with leukemia have to have the extra year of treatment. I wonder if
something in VAC passes through the barrier to this area, while
Cytoxan-topotecan doesn't--since we only saw spread of disease here after
the change in chemo.

There was really, really good news about the MRI of his head that was done
late Thursday. The MRI was completely normal--no cancer. I had already
cried and lost sleep thinking about the rhabdo spreading there. If the
rhabdo had spread to his brain, he would have just quit everything. So we
are really thankful about that it is clear.

Jason is planning on going ice skating and out to movies this weekend.
Please pray for his safety and continued healing here on earth, that God
would remove all cancer cells from this body and no relapse ever. Thank you
so much.

Thank you all for thinking of us and for your prayers. So sorry I haven't
written sooner. All the tests, uncertainties, the thought of this
surgery--just wear me out and I have been so tired.
Love in Christ,

Pam - mom to Jason (18) stage 4 ARMS, in left foot and bone marrow; dx and
tx started on VAC on 2/6/04; clear bone marrow on 4/9; radiation ended 6/18;
cancer cells back in bone marrow on 7/30; so relapsed and changed to Cytoxan
topotecan and after 2 rounds (6 wks) on 10/1 the bone marrow is clear again;
but 9/30 he found a mass that the docs think is spread of disease; surgery
next Wednesday--please pray.

October 14, 2004

Dear Friends,
Today, after his chemotherapy, Jason did not take any more antinausea drugs. He didn't feel that he needed them. He wasn't nauseous. He went and picked out his new computer at Best Buy and he felt so good that we took him out to eat at Outback Steakhouse--and he even ate a lot of the Blooming Onion. We laughed and had fun eating out. This is totally amazing in that this morning before chemo Jason couldn't even hold down the liter of water he drank to hydrate himself for chemotherapy, and now he is eating onion, fried shrimp and potatoes. Oh, we could try to explain this away--but you know, in the past two days Jason has received more than 500 pages on that 800 pager, letting people know that they are praying for him. This is an answer to all those prayers. Praises be to God. Thank you so much for praying for Jason.

There is only 1 more day of chemo and then he has two weeks off. Radiation oncology appointment is Monday at 2:00. Urology appointment is Thursday at 3:15 and the MRI of his head is Thursday at 5:00. Pray for good results from the MRI of his head. Pray that there are no signs of cancer and that the area in his abdomen would just miraculously clear up. God can do that.

Miracles still happen. God can heal Jason!!

Love in Christ,

October 12, 2004

Hi everyone,
Thank you all so much for your concern and prayers for Jason. He has three more days left to finish this week of chemo and this was another difficult day for him. He was so sick last night & this morning that he couldn't drink enough to hydrate himself, so it took 4 liters of fluid and some Lasix before he could start chemo. We were at the clinic (in a room by ourselves) from 8:00am til a little after 3:00. He slept a lot, but finally woke up, looked at the clock and said, "You see why I don't want to come down here anymore." He was so miserable. On the way home he said, "Mom, can I quit chemo now." He has eaten supper both days. I always feel that he should finish the week. He was supposed to have gone to see the radiation oncologist today and the urologist tomorrow about the biopsy, but I felt it was best to cancel those this week. On a day when he has had chemo, he just doesn't feel like going anywhere else afterwards even though early in the morning he had said, "Well, I'm not doing anything else this afternoon." It will just have to wait til next week, and it's always--if Jason will allow it.

I think that Jason wants to speak to Dr. Frangoul about continuing treatment now that we think the rhabdo has spread again. He trusts Dr Frangoul more than anyone. If he is told there is no hope--I think he will just want to quit.

October 12, 2004

Dear Friends,
Thank you all for praying. Jason needs your prayers. They told him today that the what the ultrasound showed looks very much like metastatic disease. He will soon have a fine needle biopsy to verify. They have scheduled it for Wednesday at 11:00, but I just don't know if Jason is up to getting this done this week. He is so nauseous from the chemo. It looks like the rhabdo has spread to an area in which this chemo is not effective, so radiation would be the next step and an appointment has been made with the radiation oncologist tomorrow at 1:00PM. The brain is another such area with the blood-brain barrier preventing chemo from passing, so I have asked that they do an MRI of his brain even though at this point there are no symptoms that it is there.

Jason is very discouraged at this point, as we all are. With every step down this road, we are more and more in need of a special miracle from God if Jason is to be healed here on earth.

We all need your prayers and thank you so much for thinking of us and lifting Jason up each day.

Love in Christ,

October 8, 2004

Hi everyone,
Thank you all for your concern for Jason and for your continued prayers
We saw both oncologists today--a major answer to prayer is that Jason has
agreed to continue treatment with scans after every 2 rounds about every 6
weeks. He can be very stubborn and the decision was his to make. I praise
the Lord that Jason will continue to fight this cancer. I know that he
dreads chemo so much. Next week will be a week of chemo. Jason thought
that he would be on these drugs (Cytoxan-Topotecan) for an entire year from
relapse and couldn't stand the thought, but Dr. Frangoul said just until
February for a full year of treatment from original diagnosis. Radiology had
not given a final report on the MRI of his foot, but Dr. Domm looked at it
and to her there was no sign of tumor--so hopefully the PET scan was just a
false positive. The genetic studies on the bone marrow showed no sign of
cancer. So actually Jason is in complete remission--Dr. Frangoul said that,
right now, it is a very tentative complete remission. Dr. Whitlock, head of
pediatric oncology, was there (he's not usually there on Fridays) and he
stepped in to see Jason for a minute. He mentioned to me when I asked about
clinical trials that a pediatric phase I trial of a chemo drug that is
supposed to be especially effective against tumors with a translocation as
Jason's has is starting at Vanderbilt. This drug is now in phase II trials
with adults. David hopefully will remember the trial #.

But....Despite all that good news...Last night Jason was asking questions
about where this cancer might spread and what they would do if it spread. I
said lungs or abdomen and they might use radiation. Jason has noticed a
suspicious lump. Dr. Domm ordered an ultrasound which was done today. The
full body PET didn't show uptake in the area, but this is unsettling news
and more waiting for results. Please pray that it would be nothing.

Love in Christ,

October 5, 2004

Jason told us when we prayed with him tonight that he had already decided before the results were back from the bone marrow biopsy that he wants to stop treatment. He says that he just can't stand any more chemotherapy. I'm sure it's the "no hope for a cure" that makes it harder to continue. Even when there is hope for a cure it is not an easy thing to finish treatment. It is his decision, but if the chemo is working I just wish that he would continue on it. It makes me wish that Jason didn't believe that one oncologist so completely--if he'd been given any reason to hope it would have helped. He seems so healthy and strong right now. Please pray for him about this and pray for us. We will talk with the doctor on Friday. Next week should be a week of chemotherapy. I just feel sort of numb.

In Christ,

October 4, 2004

Praise the Lord. Thank you for all your prayers for Jason. The news from
the bone marrow biopsy was good. We were expecting the worst. I give God
the glory. Let's keep praying that Jason will beat this dreadful cancer to
the glory and praise of God.

The oncologist called around 4:00 this afternoon to tell us that no cancer
cells were found in the bone marrow biopsy. At this point they have done
the stains, but not the genetics study (PCR looking for the t(2,13)
translocation). So far everything is negative for cancer cells in both
sites. After the PET scan this news is remarkable. I think even Dr. Domm
was surprised. I don't know what to think, except maybe we still have a ray
of hope. He is still scheduled for the MRI on Wed. at 5:00 which will let us
know what the PET scan really picked up. Perhaps it was a false positive or
David suggested that perhaps it is rapidly growing healthy tissue. Please
pray that the tumor is not growing at all. Dr. Domm thinks that we should
get together and talk on Friday at 8:00AM as Jason wants to have input on
his treatment now. If he is willing to go on with treatment, then next week
would be a treatment week. He has actually been acting pretty relieved at
the possibility that
treatment might be over for him yet he is asking how long he has to live and
how he will die, so I pray that he will be willing to continue even though
he gets nauseous just going to the clinic, especially if he is to receive
chemo that day. Please pray concerning Jason continuing treatment. At 18,
he has the final choice, but I think it would be a shame to stop treatment
when results are positive.

At this point I am researching antiangiogenesis drugs and hoping if I can
find one that affects bone marrow that they will allow it to be added to his
chemotherapy. There have been some excellent results with these drugs and
they seem to target the angiogenesis (formation of blood supply) process of
tumors so there are not as many problems with toxicity to normal cells.
Given that we have received a terminal prognosis, what could it hurt to try
these--I don't know if there has been any research with rhabdomyosarcoma and
these drugs, but I'm searching.

I've thought lately that our lives now are on a terrifying cancer roller
coaster with the suspense leading up to scans, good news or bad news being
the climbs and drops on the roller coaster and we'd love to get off this
ride, but not if that means not having Jason with us. Thank you for being
willing to
go along on this ride with us and for all the support you've given us, all
the food and cards, calls to Jason's pager, visits by his friends and
especially your prayers to our loving Heavenly Father for Jason. No matter
what, we can always depend on Jesus. We certainly don't understand the
whys, but I know that God is with us now and will be throughout all this.

We haven't received all the scans back, but this is very good news today.
Thanks for all your encouragement and prayers. We just keep praying.

Love in Christ,

Jason has Stage 4 ARMS(alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma) left foot and bone marrow
dx and tx on VAC started on 2/6/04; clear scans 4/9; radiation finished
6/18; cancer cells back in bone marrow 7/30; changed to Cytoxan-Topotecan
and did 2 rounds(6 weeks); scans 10/1 bone marrow clear, but uptake in left
foot on PET scan; MRI this Wednesday at 5:00pm

October 2, 2004

Hi everyone,
Thank you all for praying for Jason. Your prayers help us just to make it
through each day. It was a hard day for Jason getting all those tests done.
We were late getting to the MRI place as it took him awhile to shake off the
anesthesia from the bone marrow biopsy and for the nurse to find a wheel
chair. He would have had to wait a long time, and Jason just wanted to
leave. He had promised to get together with some friends and, even though he
felt crummy, nauseous and sore, he didn't want to disappoint them. The onc
said it was okay to leave as the MRI was the least useful test last time
because of the scar tissue.

Of course, it will be days before we get results from the bone marrow
biopsy. But before we even got home Dr. Domm had called with preliminary
results from the PET scan--"It looks like there was some uptake in the left
foot--where the primary tumor was." (because of this he has to have the
MRI--rescheduled for next Wed at 5:00PM) If the tumor is growing there while
he is on the cytoxan-topotecan--what else but more cancer growing in the
bone marrow can be expected, is what I am thinking. I am so very sad. I
wish I could have had happy news to share. I can't do anything to help make
Jason better. I really can't imagine what Jason is thinking. He has been
so strong and brave through all of this. All we can do is just keep
praying--hoping for a miracle. I know that God is in control and that God
loves each of us. His plan for our loves is always perfect. God is able
to heal Jason.

Love in Christ,

September 22, 2004

Hi everyone,
One of our friends suggested that we get a pager with an 800 number so that when people pray for Jason they can call the pager and Jason will know that they are praying. This will be an encouragement to him. Someone at Centennial has given Jason this pager for a while.

Jason's pager number is 800-456-6812. He can receive text messages on the pager. Text messages can be sent to :


Love in Christ,


September 16, 2004

Hi everyone,
Thank you all for lifting Jason and our family up in prayer. God has
answered our prayers concerning the time it takes to get chemo and there are
just 2 more days of Cytoxan-Topotecan left for Jason this week. I can't say
that things have been great, because he hates this, but he has learned how
to hydrate himself. He drinks a liter of water at bedtime and a liter
before we leave for the clinic in the morning and when we get to the clinic
he is ready for the chemo. He gets some antiemetics first and fluids for an
hour after so we are there from 8 to about 12. We love Wendy, the nurse who
has been giving the chemo both this week and 3 weeks ago. She has a bed
ready for Jason with a pillow and a blanket when we get there and Jason has
a room and a bathroom all to himself. That has been so nice and we are very
thankful for the special treatment.

Love in Christ,

September 14, 2004

Hi everyone,
Thank you so much for praying for Jason. I had asked some to pray that this
week Jason could be hydrated sooner so that he wouldn't have to stay at the
clinic as long. God has answered that prayer so far and we praise Him for
this. On Monday, Jason only had to be there 6 hours as he tried to drink a
lot the night before. On Tuesday he drank a liter of water at home before
we left and he was hydrated by 8:30 (as soon as they checked) so we could
leave by 12 Noon--only 4 hours. The chemo is making him feel absolutely
miserable(nauseous and tired). When this starts he tells me he has nothing
to live for, he just wants to quit chemo and that makes me cry and then he
says that he will keep trying. He tells me that he might like to live until
the Fall Retreat at church or until his birthday, Dec. 16. It is so hard to
watch him go through this. We still continue to pray for complete healing
and restoration of Jason's health here on earth and know that God can and
does still do miraculous things. Nothing is too difficult for God. Jason's
next bone marrow biopsy will be on Oct. 1-Please pray that there are no
cancer cells this time. If there is no improvement in the bone marrow then
this chemo will be stopped and Jason doesn't want the last alternative that
involves surgery and a new central IV line. We are considering taking him
for a 2nd and maybe even a 3rd opinion--I'm not sure how this works, but MD
Andersen in Texas is supposed to have a top notch Sarcoma unit. Some have
suggested St. Jude's. Our doctors will be happy to help set it all up. Pray
that the Lord would lead us in this.

The two week between chemo with Cytoxan-Topotecan, to me, were great. He
had friends here a lot. Lots of guys sleeping over, and we were happy to
have them and loved hearing Jason laughing and talking. One of the boys
brought the beta test copy of an on-line computer game and Jason enjoyed
playing this game so much. The beta test ended Sunday, but I have e-mailed
and talked on the phone with the company explaining Jason's situation and
pleading with them to let him be part of the closed beta testing which
actually is for winners of a contest. I got the e-mail address of their PR
department and e-mailed them today.

On Friday, Jason had an appointment for counts and a brief visit with the
doctor. Counts were ready in 10 minutes and they looked good: hematocrit
38(up 4); platelets 128,000 (up from 70,000); and ANC 1340(dropped from
3,300); so he can get chemo next week, which I know he is dreading. After
this Jason waited in one of the chairs in the infusion room and as the hours
went by he became so tired of waiting and wondered why he even needed to see
the doctor and just wanted to leave. After 2 hours I started wondering what
was taking so long and finally I started asking the nurses, "Is he really
supposed to see the doctor today?" I told one of the nurses that Jason is
considering stopping treatment and having to wait like this is not helping.
She said that it was stupid that he would consider stopping treatment and I
told her "not really, considering that Dr. Frangoul said that there is no
hope for a cure." She said that Dr. Frangoul isn't God. I told her that
Jason just believes what Dr. Frangoul said. We weren't speaking angrily,
just quietly and I don't think Jason heard us. Soon after this they put
Jason in a room where he had to wait a while for a resident who came and
asked about current meds, fever, nausea, etc. After more waiting the
oncologist finally came in. We were there for over 3 hours. I let Jason go
to the car ahead of me while I made the appointments for next week, which
took a while. The oncologist wrote 8:00AM for every morning next week, but
the receptionist said that there was nothing at 8 that it would have to be
9:30. Considering that even with overnight IV hydration he was there for
over 35 hours for chemo and hydration last time I insisted that it had to be
8:00 (he doesn't even have to see the doctor until next Friday). and that's
what she put down, but I did have to insist. I'm not usually a pushy kind
of person.

Thank you all for your love and concern for Jason and for our family. Let's
all just keep on praying for complete earthly healing for Jason.

Love in Christ,

September 11, 2004

Hi everyone,

It has been awhile since I have written to you about Jason. The two weeks since his treatment week with Cytoxan-Topotecan, to me, have been great. He has friends here a lot. Lots of guys sleeping over, and for Jason's sake we are putting up with them and feeding extra teens and love hearing Jason laughing and talking with them. One of the boys brought the beta test copy of an on-line computer game and Jason has enjoyed playing this game so much. The beta test ends tomorrow, but I have e-mailed and talked on the phone with the company explaining Jason's situation and pleading with them to let him be part of the closed beta testing which actually is for winners of a contest.

Jason had an appointment yesterday for counts and what should have been a brief visit with the doctor. Counts were ready in 10 minutes and they looked good: hematocrit 38(up 4); platelets 128,000 (up from 70,000); and ANC 1340(dropped from 3,300); so he can get chemo next week, which I know he is dreading. After this Jason waited in one of the chairs in the infusion room and as the hours went by he became so tired of waiting and wondered why he even needed to see the doctor and just wanted to leave. After 2 hours I started wondering what was taking so long and finally I started asking the nurses, "Is he really supposed to see the doctor today?" I told one of the nurses that Jason is considering stopping treatment and having to wait like this is not helping. She said that it was stupid that he would consider stopping treatment and I told her "not really, considering that Dr. Frangoul said that there is no hope for a cure." She said that Dr. Frangoul isn't God. I told her that Jason just believes what Dr. Frangoul said. Soon after this they put Jason in a room where he had to wait 30 minutes for a resident who came and asked about current meds, fever, nausea, etc. 30 minutes later the oncologist finally came in. Dr. Domm and Dr. Frangoul were in meetings. We were there for 4 hours. I let Jason go to the car ahead of me while I made the appointments for next week, which took a while.


September 4, 2004

Jason's counts looked good Friday. Hematocrit went from 31 to 34. ANC went from 730 to 3300 (with Neupogen). Platelets fell though from 178,000 to 70,000.

At Vanderbilt they have told us that there is no hope for a cure with what they consider to be relapse while on treatment (VAC). When Jason asked, "How long do I have?" his oncologist said that she thought that he has "months not weeks." Naturally, it is hard for him to continue treatment (Cytoxan-Topotecan) when he has heard those words.

We have not been anywhere else to get a 2nd opinion. Should we go somewhere else? If so, where do you think we should go? I was thinking M.D.Andersen rather than St. Jude's, though St.Jude's is closer. If there were any hope at all, I think Jason would be willing to try. Truly, even though he says that he has no goals and nothing to live for, I believe he wants to live. I don't want to give up hope. I want to do more than just pray for him (which we do constantly) if there is more that we can do.


September 2, 2004

Hi everyone,
I'm sorry that I haven't updated in a few days. We went to East Tennessee
so that Jason could visit his grandparents this week. He hadn't seen my
parents since March and they really wanted to see him. (Although my mom and
brother spent much of the time this week lecturing Jason on his eating
habits and showing him an infomercial by Dr. Lorraine Day.) He visited his
best friends Daniel and Jonathan while we were there. One of David'sfriends
owns a little (2 seater) aircraft and he took everyone in the family
up on Wednesday (except me--I was afraid I would have motion sickness) and
actually let them fly the plane themselves. Jason really seemed to enjoy
flying--he went up twice. He seemed more upbeat--he laughed a lot and
really had fun. A lot of the time he just played video games with his
friends or alone. I still had to give him Neupogen injections each night so
that was a constant reminder of what is happening. Despite that, it is
always so good to get away and try not to think about this cancer.

Tomorrow night Jason, 2 of his friends, and David are going to a
Titans-Green Bay Packers football game. Someone David knows got free
tickets for them and they'll be in one of the special air-conditioned
private seating areas. Also tomorrow morning, Jason goes to the clinic for
counts at 8:30 AM.

All in all, last week we spent over 35 hours at the clinic for the
out-patient Cytoxan-Topotecan plus overnight IVs on 3 nights (125 ml/hr) to
try to shorten the hydration time. He just doesn't drink enough to hydrate
himself. His counts fell during the week--from Monday til Friday:
Hematocrit went from 36 to 31, Platelets from 248,000 to 178,000 and ANC
from 2200 to 730. Hopefully that is just the effect of the chemo and not a
sign of rapid progression of the cancer. He still has one more week of no
chemo before we repeat this cycle and then scans will be done to see if this
is working.

Last Friday Jason asked Dr. Domm how much time he has left (to live) and she
told him that she thinks that he probably has "months, not weeks." You
know that they have told him that no matter what chemo they try now that
there won't be a cure. We just keep praying that he will be
healed--miraculously to God's glory. To see him laughing and talking with
his friends it is hard to imagine that what the oncologists say could be
true. I just hope that they are very wrong and that our prayers will be
answered for earthly healing for Jason. Thank you all for joining with us
in praying for Jason to be healed.

Love in Christ,

August 25, 2004

Hi everyone,
I just thought that I had to tell you that things were better at the clinic today. After receiving IV fluids overnight Jason was well hydrated and chemotherapy started at 8:30 AM. We were home by 1:00 and really could have been home probably a hour earlier if the last of the IV had been run faster and a wheelchair had been requested sooner (he is groggy after the anti-nausea meds-so he needs a wheelchair). We praise the Lord for this answer to prayer.

I found a Kids Wish Network that grants wishes to kids up to 19 years old and Jason has a Wish coordinator that we have been in contact with. It was hard to get him to make the 3 wishes (1 wish wil be granted), but several weeks ago, before we learned the results of the bone marrow biopsy he finally helped me get the wishes written down. He didn't want to make a selfish wish. His first wish was a beach trip next summer with his best friends to a special resort with an indoor lazy river in Panama City, FL. It was to be a celebration of being off chemo. Now everyone thinks he should have a wish granted sooner, but he doesn't see the point of it anymore. His friends are all in school so they couldn't go right now. He said that if he wished for video games, etc--he wouldn't be around long enough to enjoy them so what's the use--that if he had to make a wish that he would just ask his friends what they want and give all the things to them.

Jason is feeling really low right now. He is so very sad and he talked about it with me some for the first time. He spoke about things he wishes he could have done in his life... He spoke about how it bothers him that he is making us all so sad. He is lonely. Almost all his friends have left for college. Katie came to say goodbye today. She and Alisha (already gone to college) had kept Jason supplied with homemade cookies and much needed company along with many other friends that came all spring and summer. Sometimes, late at night, she would drop by just to say "Hi!!" and leave cookies. All of Jason's friends mean so much to him. Please pray for God to encourage him and send friends his way. Continue to pray for complete healing. I know that you are. Thank you so much.

Love in Christ,

P.S. Today is David's birthday.

August 24, 2004

Jason started his new chemo yesterday. He and I were at the clinic for 7 1/2 hours. It took hours just to get him hydrated. The chemo made him miserable. He was very nauseous and he didn't keep down his supper, so essentially he has had no food on Monday. One nurse told him that the nausea would get worse through the week. He can't go 5 days with no food. He is supposed to get this chemo every day this week, skip 2 weeks and then repeat. He said that, depending on bone marrow biopsy results (after 3 or 4 cycles of this chemo) he may decide to stop treatment. I couldn't help but cry a lot today as memories of happier days, thoughts of this torture, and thoughts of years of missing Jason kept coming into my mind. It is hard being in the clinic with not a lot to do and all the sick children. We keep on praying for that miracle--God can heal him instantly if He choses.

Today is Tuesday and Jason was in the clinic for 9 hours. As we were driving down he told me that he just wanted to go back home. He said that he has nothing to live for and that "life sucks." His dad talked to him on the cell phone and Jason agreed to at least finish this week of chemo. When we parked he took a long time getting out of the car. He didn't want to go in. I told the nurse that he wants to quit taking chemo and she got Dr. Frangoul to talk to him--he wants Jason to do at least 2 rounds of this, that is this week and skip 2 weeks and then another week and then a bone marrow biopsy. The clinic called home health and a man came and hooked Jason up to IVs and an IV pump so he can be hydrated when he goes to the clinic tomorrow so hopefully it won't take as long. You know that Jason has always been so tough--crying is not something he does, but David found that Jason was crying tonight in his room. (He would be so embarrassed if he knew that others know he was crying.) He tries so hard to keep it all inside. He is feeling really low, so depressed.

I was really glad that Jason ate a personal pan pizza today at lunch. It is all he has had since Sunday night. We were thankful that Jason's friend, Josh, came over. His friends always lift his spirits. So it is a blessing to him when they come over.
Please pray that we won't have to stay so long at the clinic. Jason is hating having to stay there all day. Pray that this chemo would work and that things go better for him. I don't even know how to ask -- but please pray about his depression. Pray that Jason would have something to look forward to--to live for and that the 2 weeks without chemo will be really good weeks. Thank you for your prayers. I'm sorry that things are so sad for us. I know that it is hard for you to read of all this suffering and it is hard for me to talk about these things without crying.

Love in Christ,


August 17, 2004

Dear Friends,

Jason will start his new chemo on Monday. He chose Cytoxan--Topotecan so he
receives it in the clinic for 5 days in a row. Then he receives no chemo
for 2 weeks and the cycle repeats. No hospitalizations for chemo are
planned on this regimen. We hope and pray that this works on those resistant
cancer cells as Jason says that he will never go on the harsher treatment
that includes Ifosphamide and Etoposide with VAdriC. We continue to pray
for healing. He is supposed to go in for blood counts once a week. I am
hoping that he will be freed up to go and spend a week with his grandparents
that he saw at Christmas and briefly in March. My mom has wanted so much to
see him. She took care of him one day a week when I worked up till Justin
was born and Jason was 2. He holds a special place in her heart. He would
also like to see his friends, Daniel and Jonathan, and some other relatives.

His hematocrit was the highest it has ever been since he was diagnosed. It
was 38. His platelets were 220,000 and his ANC was in the normal range. I
don't know when they will do more scans to see if this is working, but I
will ask soon.

Thank you all for praying for Jason and for us.

Love in Christ,

August 14, 2004

Dear friends,
We are home from the beach. We were at Gulf Shores, Alabama for the week. The water was really rough the first 2 days with a current like a river running beside the beach-so strong that with Vincristine weakened ankles Jason had a tough time. Later there were jelly fish that stung 5 out of 6 of the group. Finally Friday was perfect and calm. Probably Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley caused some of that, but we didn't have much rain, just clouds so it could have been worse. It was a nice escape from reality, despite the fact that I cried the whole way as I drove down just thinking about losing Jason. His 5 friends along with the 6 in our family kept me busy and livened things up. They helped Jason laugh some. A lot of the time Jason just wanted to be alone in the porch swing or sitting or walking on the beach, I suppose thinking, as he never opens up to anyone. On Tuesday the reporter and photographer from The Tennessean (Nashville's newpaper) came down (with our permission) to talk and take pictures of Jason and his friends having fun. Just having them there made it hard to forget what is happening. Then on Friday a doctor's office called on my cell phone at the beach to say that Jason is scheduled to have surgery next Tuesday morning, even though we have not decided if he will get the chemo that requires the Hickman catheter. We didn't even tell him about it. So it was hard to get away from thinking about cancer, but by the end of the week with the sand and sun and endless waves I felt a little better. It doesn't take much to get me crying again though. Just seeing his friends driving off, heading to college and to careers-full of hope and future plans, while Jason is left here --it is so hard. Monday we go to the clinic to see our regular doctor to hear her opinion on the options--does she also agree with the hopelessness. We will find out and decide what to do next.

Thanks for all your responses. I wish we just knew the perfect combination of everything to rid his body of cancer. No one can say for sure. We know that God is in control. Our lives are in His hands.

God bless each one of you.


August 7, 2005

Jason saw Dr. Frangoul in clinic today. He said that we have 3 options:
1.. Stop treatment - he says it is a viable option.
2.. Cytoxan and topotecan - better quality of life than
3.. VAC with Adriamycin instead of Actinomycin and Ifosfamide and Etoposide. This treatment would involve changing the central line from a port a cath to a Hickman catheter and the onc said that at least half the next year would be spent in the hospital.
Regardless of what we do, Dr. Frangoul said that we are just prolonging the time. He didn't just come out and say it, but obviously he feels the results are inevitable and the situation is hopeless for a cure. He thought the 3rd option would take away Jason's quality of life. Jason seems resigned to his fate and is telling his friends and they are all really sad. Possibly he will want option #2. I'm afraid that he won't do #3 which I feel offers the best hope because he hates the idea of a change in the central line since it hurt so much to put in the first one, the hospital admissions, and the fact that he thinks that he is already being too much trouble (we would gladly do anything we could to help him fight this disease). All this, plus the fact that the onc presented it in such a way as to say that it will not change the end result.

The bone marrow (that showed a return of rhabdo) done on July 30 was 4 weeks out from the last VAC treatment because of low ANC the week before. The bone marrow done on April 9 was 3 weeks from a VAC treatment. Could that make a difference? See, we are not altogether sure for ourselves that this is an actual relapse. There were no cancer cells on April 9--but if the biopsy had been done a week later farther from a VAC-could there have been cancer cells? Would a week's time make a difference?

Also, Dr. Frangoul is the bone marrow transplant specialist, who said several months ago that Jason might be a good candidate for a bone marrow transplant given the presentation of only in bone marrow and the foot and if it recurred only in bone marrow. He just dismissed it today saying that our insurance wouldn't pay for it--that they had to call 3 times just to get approval for the PET scan. Please visit this website: http://www.caringbridge.org/nv/ritchie/ to read about a Stage 4 relapsed ARMS patient who received a stem cell transplant. June 19, 2004 was day 287 after his transplant. They haven't updated all summer so I hope he is still doing good. Even today Dr. Frangoul said that he knew of one Rhabdo patient out West who had a bone marrow transplant and is a long term survivor.

We are leaving for the beach tomorrow. I've been so busy getting ready. Thank you for being here.


August 5, 2004

Thank you all for praying for our family. I have been so overwhelmed with sadness because of the latest news, it has been hard for me to respond to you. I have been on the verge of tears all day. If I consider the past when Jason was strong and healthy or if I consider the future and the suffering he must endure and the uncertainty--I end up crying, so I just need to keep my thoughts in the present and be thankful that I can see and hear and touch him now. I can't just cry all the time. How can I be a good mother to all the children that way? Jason seems to be handling things much better today. He went to the mall and to a friend's birthday party. I've even heard some laughing.

It is even harder for me to tell people about Jason's cancer--I cancelled his college courses, went and voted and saw 2 people from church that I told. David says to not give up hope--that the new drugs may rid him of the resistant cancer cells. He keeps praying for a miracle. We will learn more about the new plan of attack tomorrow at the clinic and then, Saturday morning we will leave for the beach.

In Christ's love,

August 4, 2004

Dr. Domm called this evening. The bone marrow biopsy done last Friday shows
rhabdo cells back now in both sites. We are devastated. His chemotherapy will have to be changed as they consider now that these are resistant cancer cells. The
MRI was didn't tell them much as there is so much inflamation and scar
tissure right now. I wish we hadn't even told Jason or allowed him to speak
to Dr. Domm on the speaker phone with us. It really could have waited until
Friday or at least until tomorrow. He had a whole houseful of friends over
after church to play Halo on X Box. It ruined the whole evening for him and
he had been so happy running up and down the stairs sitting up all the
games. He just sat alone in a dark room for a long time and he never played
Halo with them at all.

Please pray for Jason.

In Christ's love,

August 1, 2004

Hi Everyone,
Thank you for praying for Jason. God has answered many prayers concerning
Jason this week. Jason got his VAC yesterday. His ANC (white cells) were
almost in the normal range and his hematocrit had gone up from 33 to 35 so
he is making red blood cells. PET scan results showed no areas of activity,
so this is good. Still waiting on CT, MRI and Bone marrow results

His BAD (Benadryl-Ativan-Decadron) pump was set correctly this time and the
nausea was controlled well in the hospital with it, except during the 30-45
minutes when the Cytoxan was dripping in and the pump can't be hooked up at
the same time. Since he came home he has been feeling pretty yucky--lots of
nausea and vomiting. I really think as much as he wants to get right out of
hospital on Saturday afternoon after getting chemo at 9pm or later on Friday
that it wouldn't hurt one bit if he stayed at least until Saturday. I'm
hoping that he has finally gone to sleep and hopefully this nausea will be a
lot better by

In the clinic on Friday we met a 17 year old girl named Michelle (and her
mom) with recently (in April) diagnosed neuroblastoma that was assumed to be
a benign ovarian cyst so it was cut in half to remove it, which spilled
cancer cells in her abdomen. This was done at another hospital. Her
platelets were down to 12 Friday and she had bruiseson both arms and stomach
from Neupogen shots (she's getting 4 a day) in preparation for stem cell
collection. It seemed like there were so many sweet children I had never
seen before at the clinic. The Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic and
Floor in a Hospital is a whole world that most parents hopefully will never

Jason is looking forward to the beach trip we have planned for Aug 7-14.
Five of his best friends are coming and we are going to Gulf Shores,

Please continue to pray about scan results, Jason's nausea, and for the
beach trip. Thank you so much for praying. At the hospital today, as I
looked out from Jason's room, it suddenly started raining hard, but the sun
was still shining brightly, so I knew that there was a rainbow somewhere. I
just couldn't see it from where I stood. Isn't it that way with our lives
sometimes--it is raining, we have troubles, and from where we stand we don't
see it, but the rainbow is still there. God always keeps his promises. We
can depend on Him no matter what happens.

In Christ,


July 28, 2004

Hi Everyone,
Thanks so much for your prayers for Jason.
Right now Jason is having a great time--a friend is visiting from Canada and
so a lot of the guys are getting together. There are 5 extra teenage boys
at our house tonight. Last night all of them, including Jason and Justin,
spent the night at a friend's house in Mt. Juliet. Jason seems to be
recovering from his cold. They've laughed a lot and it is wonderful to hear
him having fun.

Jason has many scans coming up this week--he will have them about every 3
months for a long time--even after treatment ends. It has been over 12
weeks since the last scans around 4/9. PET and CT scans are Thursday at 7
AM. Bone marrow biopsy at 8:30 AM and MRI at 12 on Friday. We are hoping
his ANC (Absolute Neutraphil Count --white blood cells) will be up so that
he can get VAC this Friday, too (It was postponed last week due to low ANC
of 500, apparently due to a virus-coughing, nasal drainage.) It will be a
hard week for Jason.

David asked me if I am really concerned about the scans, since Jason seems
to be doing so well. How can I not be? During the last 12 weeks Jason had a
Vincristine break that scares me (though it is apparently necessary) and no
Actinomycin for 2 cycles due to radiation. Now a delayed VAC because of low
counts. So he hasn't received all of the chemo each week. Also if the MRI
shows anything suspicious after the radiation to his foot--the surgeon who
wanted to to the partial amputation will do a biopsy and if there are viable
cancer cells the amputation could still be necessary. So yes, I am very
concerned. The week waiting to find out will be so hard. I told David that
he needs to be there with me in the clinic the next Friday, Aug. 6, when we
get the scan results back. If they show cancer--I just know I won't be able
to hold back the tears--I don't even think I would be able to drive home.

Please pray for Jason about getting the scans, that he can get chemotherapy
this Friday, for clear scans and always for complete healing. Thank you for
lifting us up in prayer. We do need prayer so much.

In Christ's Love,
Pam Archer.

July 26, 2004

Well, in spite of the low ANC that kept Jason from getting his VAC last Friday and the cold that probably caused it--Jason has been having fun today. He absolutely refuses to wear a mask to protect himself. He still has some prideful idea that he can fight off diseases even when in the presence of sickness. He went to see a movie, eat at the mall and then come home a watch a movie with Julie---but it is NOT a date. There were a whole houseful of people here tonight--Trevor, Josh Sewell, Josh Wattenburg, Patrick, Steven Delius, and Aaron who is here from Canada for 2 weeks. They had me order pizza--just said only 3, but I ordered 4--good thing since only 2 slices were left. They all watched Starsky and Hutch. They talked all over the house in little groups. At 11:00 everybody loaded up--even Justin and Jason to go spend the night at Delius's house, an hours drive away. They woke David up before they left. Not a good thing. David thought that Jason just needs to get some rest--knowing that he will stay up all night at Delius's house. Jason spends so much time alone in his room. I want him to have fun and do things with his friends when he can. We just don't know what will be happening at this time next year. Will Jason be alive? Will he be in remission? This could be the last year of his life. How can we just omit fun when this may be the best times he has left. The cancer is so aggressive. Pet scan, CT scan, MRI and bone marrow biopsy are coming up this week. Waiting for results will be so hard.

Pam 7/27/04 1:00am

July 26, 2004

The oncologist told us on Friday that a virus could be the reason for the low white cell counts, even though at the time he had no symptoms. By Friday evening he began to have symptoms of a virus--a persistent cough that kept him awake, Friday and Saturday and then on Sunday nasal drainage. Please pray that he can recover quickly from this cold (the first time he has had a cold since before diagnosis), that his white counts would go up, and that he can get his chemo this Friday. Please pray for clear scans and complete earthly healing for Jason.

Thank you for concern and prayers for Jason. God hears and answers prayer.

In Christ,

July 23, 2004

Jason went to the clinic expecting to be admitted, but his ANC (Absolute
Neutrophil Count- a type of white blood cell) was only 500, so he is almost
neutropenic. This is the first time we have had to postpone treatment due
to low counts and it is week 24 out of 52 weeks of chemo. His counts just
haven't come up much lately. The oncologist said that the standard thing to
do is wait a week and hope counts rebound and they usually do. Next week
Jason will have a bone marrow biopsy, MRI of foot, CT of chest and a PET
scan. Please pray for clear scans and for his white cell counts to come up.
Thank you all so much for praying for our dear son.

In Christ's love,

July 20, 2004

Hi everyone!!
Thanks for praying for Jason and Justin as they were on the Knoxville mission trip. Jason worked so hard. He put all his energy into the work. He was exhausted afterwards. He did his part and he never complained-- was what many people told me. On Tues. or Wed. of the trip he ran a fever of about 99 oF which is getting close to the 100.4 when he has to go to the Emergency Room, but they put an ice bag on his head that night and the next day his temp was down. He hasn't used his wheelchair since a few days before the trip so his legs and feet have been tired and sore just from all the standing and walking after the inactivity of using the wheelchair for 5-6 weeks.

Getting the chemo in Knoxville didn't work out. Jason's doctors would have allowed it, but our insurance just wouldn't approve it, so in the end David had to drive Jason to Nashville from Pigeon Forge to get chemo at Vanderbilt on Monday. We spent several days (Sat-Tues) with David's parents and brother and his family in Pigeon Forge. Jason, even though he was still so tired, enjoyed spending time with David's family so much that he wanted to come back from Nashville. We had to check out the next day(Tues) at 11:00. It was a lot of driving for David, but just so good to see and visit with everyone and let the cousins just be together. The kids and dads all raced go-carts just before we headed home........making fun memories. I'm just hoping we can do it again next year and that Jason will be finished with chemo and in remission ... so we can all enjoy the time together even more.

So I just want to thank everyone for your prayers and offers of help. God answered all the prayers concerning this trip. Jason went on the mission trip. It wasn't interupted at all by a chemo treatment. Everything worked out. God kept us safe through all the driving (David and I both visited our parents in East Tennessee while the boys were on the mission trip). We are home now.

Prayer requests:
Jason is continuing to experience nausea and vomiting weeks after the big chemo treatment. This is unusual. We don't understand why he is still feeling so sick.
Strength and healing in his weakened legs and feet.
His VAC (big chemo) treatment with hospital admission is this Friday, July 23. Pray that the nausea will be controlled quickly this time and that there are no problems with the BAD pump for nausea. Pray for Josh, Jenny and even for 16 year old Justin--this is a hard time for them, as Pam stays at the hospital with Jason until he can come home.
Bone marrow biopsy and MRI scans will be done on July 30. Please pray for good reports back from these--no cancer in the bone marrow and that radiation has done away with the tumor in his foot. We won't get the results back until Aug. 6. This can be a difficult time of waiting.
Continue to pray for complete earthly healing and no relapse. That the cancer never returns.
Jason really wants to go on a beach trip with friends. Someone has provided us with a beach house from Aug 7-14--I think in Gulf Shores, Alabama and Jason has invited 4 friends. Pray that this would work out perfectly and that the VAC treatment for Aug 13 can be postponed until Monday Aug 16.
Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Love in Christ,

July 10, 2004

Thanks for your continued prayers for our family and especially for your prayers for Jason. It is an answer to prayer that Jason's ANC (Absolute Neutrophil count) was up and that his foot is healed enough for the doctors to raise no objections on account of these 2 things for him to go on the Knoxville Mission Trip. The oncologists were pretty amazed actually that his foot had healed so much in a week's time-- so this is a real praise. The doctor did raise some objections though--he thinks that Jason's ANC is still dropping, and we are having difficulty working out how Jason will get Vincristine this week. Jason's oncologist agreed to let him get the Vincristine in Knoxville on Friday, but by that time Jason will be over 100 miles away in Ducktown and David will end up having to drive over 300 miles to get him there by 10:00 AM Friday. The thing is --the hotel and the place where Jason will be working in VBS in Knoxville are each less than 10 minutes from East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Please pray that it would work out that Jason can get his blood counts done and the Vincristine injection quickly on Thursday morning so he can get back to the mission trip that day. It would be the least disruptive way for him to get chemo. David can drive there and take him. Doctors can be kind of intimidating and I hate to keep calling to try to get this the best way for Jason. The oncologist didn't like the idea of changing the chemo schedule to fit Jason's "social calendar," yet they have worked into that schedule Vincristine breaks to lessen the nerve damage and if the clinic were closed for a holiday they would change the schedule then. We got a short lecture from the doctor today on how deadly this cancer is and how important it is to stay on schedule and, you know, I do positively know that this cancer could take Jason away from us-we have no guarantees that even staying right on schedule with chemo will cure it or that he will even be with us next year--which is one reason I wanted him to be able to go, participate and just enjoy this trip.

Please pray that Jason can get his chemo on Thursday and that everything would work out perfectly about it: the timing, insurance coverage, etc. Also pray about the mission trip--that these little children and their parents would come to know Christ as Lord and Saviour. Both Jason and Justin are supposed to have a list of 5 prayer partners who are praying specifically for them this week as they go on this mission trip--I don't know that they've asked anyone. Could some of you pray for them about the mission trip this week?

Thank you so much for your faithfulness in prayer. For all we know, Jason is healed of the cancer right now. God may have already healed him, but we need to keep on praying.

Love in Christ,

July 7, 2004

To Everyone Praying for Jason,

Thank you so much for praying. I just wanted to let you know that God has answered our prayers: the nausea is gone, and Jason is hungry and able to eat again. Also when I changed the dressing on his foot, it is just amazing how much it has healed since this weekend. There are still 2 very red spots, but the area is all covered with skin now and the blisters are gone. This afternoon one of his friends came by, and he and Jason went to the mall. Jason was looking for a hat, but didn't find the kind he wanted. He didn't take the wheelchair. He put shoes on both feet and walked. God is answering prayer here and I just want to give Him the glory for what He is doing and to praise Him!!!! Thank you, Lord!!!

Love in Christ,

July 7, 2004

Hi Everyone!!
Thanks for your prayers for Jason. I called the on-call doctor Sunday night since the nausea and vomiting had been so bad for so long. She allowed an increase in dosage and frequency of the medicines that we already had so I didn't have to take him in to get IV fluids. Jason was able to sleep and has been able to eat today. He was so hungry. We just praise God that Jason is feeling better now

I was just talking to Jason and there are 2 other things that I am concerned about now. Jason says that he is forgetting things about his life-things about his past. The Ativan that he takes for nausea has an amnesia side-effect, I thought just during the time that he is taking it. The chemotherapy he gets also kills brain cells. Jason is concerned about forgetting these things. He says that he can't even remember what he's forgotten. He wonders if it is all permanently forgotten. He has always been so bright. He must feel that he is losing a big part of himself with this forgetfulness. The other thing is that Jason feels depressed. I even wanted to take him for counseling a year or two ago and he refused to go. Of course, he is more depressed now with everything that is happening and because he is Jason, he doesn't talk about it. I'm surprised he even said anything to me. He says he wouldn't want to be treated for it because it is part of who he is. He wouldn't want to take medicine that would make him a different person. He tells me not to worry about him, that he will be fine, that if he dies that he will be in a better place. That makes me cry.

Thank you for your prayers. It means so much to know that you all are praying for Jason and for us.

Love in Christ,

July 2, 2004

Please pray that the nausea that Jason is having right now would soon go away. This was a difficult hospital admission. The nausea and vomiting having been as bad as that first admission and have not been controlled well with the usual medicines that have worked before. He really wanted to come home, but he has been miserable all day. Even in the hospital he felt worse than usual after the chemo. We don't understand why it is so bad this time, unless it is because he didn't get the Actinomycin for 2 rounds during radiation and he did get it today. This is hard for him and hard for us to not be able to do anything to help him.

His foot is looking a lot better. The wound team looked at it and said that it is healing just fine. It is still very sore though he doesn't complain. He still has the appointment to see the wound team on Wednesday.

Please continue to pray for healing of his foot even as his white blood cell count drops this week, pray for good counts on Friday, July 9, pray that if it is God's will that Jason can go on the Knoxville Mission trip that he has wanted so badly to go on, and, of course, continue to pray that God would heal him of the cancer--that it would be gone forever.

Thank you so much for praying for Jason. We just have to depend on the Lord--the whole situation is just out of our control, but God is in control.

Love in Christ,

July 2, 2004

June 27, 2004

Hi to Everyone "Praying for Jason,"

Just thought I'd let you know how Jason is doing since finishing radiation
treatment to his foot 9 days ago. It was very red, burnt, blistered and
painful when treatment was finished. I wish that I could say that it is
miraculously well, but it is not. I just hope that it is not getting any
worse, at this point. It looks pretty bad with all the weeping blisters.
He can't put much weight on it. He always uses the wheelchair when he goes
out. No one gave me instructions on how to take care of his foot or how to
dress it. Some of the radiation techs said "I would use pure aloe vera gel
on it now," and the radiation onc resident said that Jason could pop the
blister (the very large one) which he did repeatedly to get all the blisters
to drain, so now he has open wounds--but not infected. I left it open all
week, as I wasn't told to cover it, and coated with Triple Antibiotic
Ointment since I figured that one of the worst things that could happen to
it would be an infection. When he went back to the oncology clinic on
Friday, it took 3 hours for Jason to get his Vincristine push-I guess they
were just that busy, but it was a really a long visit-just waiting. We were
there from 10:30 til 1:30.

The oncologist wants me to keep his foot coated with Neosporin Ointment (not
Triple-Antibiotic Ointment, but they seem like the same thing) and covered
with Kerlix flexible gauze. (Actually I was told to get Neosporin-Coated
Kerlix, but I couldn't find it.) They wanted to try to get him in to see
the Wound Team and said that if his foot isn't a lot better by tomorrow that
I should call back and have them make an appointment. I kind of think they
should have given me instructions on how to take care of his burn sooner,
but, regardless, it is just going to take some time for it to heal. Also,
on Friday, the oncologist said that if it isn't significantly better by this
Friday, Jason may not get his VAC on scheudule this Friday as that will
decrease his ANC (Automated Neutrophil Count) and white count and make him
more prone to get an infection on his foot. We have planned a few things
for the summer(Jason and Justin going on the mission trip July 11-16; a
weekend with David's parents and brother's family, and a trip to Gulf
Shores, Alabama) and delays in getting his VAC would not be good for those

Jason must be having less pain today as he has not asked for pain medicine
all day and doesn't want any now. That's a good sign. Whenever I ask him,
how's your foot feel, his answer is always, "Fine," so I have to ask, "Does
it feel better, worse, or the same as yesterday?" Usually he says it is
about the same. He doesn't ever want to complain. I found something called
2nd Skin Burn Pads at Walgreens that I have been using and I talked to a
friend who is a nurse at church who also thought moist healing for a burn is
better than dry healing and the pads have relieved some of the pain. To
those of you who are nurses or in the medical field (especially Kaye Rock)
any advice on best treatment for burns is greatly appeciated.

We had a special All-American Celebration at First Baptist Hendersonville
tonight. It was great and the weather was perfect-low humidity and a
breeze. There were all kinds of fun things for the kids to do and plenty of
food (hotdogs, chips, drinks, cotton candy, ice cream, snow cones and
popcorn) to eat. Josh and David enjoyed to car show-lots of old classic
cars. Justin worked -helping at church. Jason and Jenny climbed the rock
wall--Jason using mostly his good leg and strong arms-- got about 2/3 of the
way up--how I wish that he could have made it to the top, but glad that he
even wanted to get out of the wheelchair and try. The little boy we've met
at Vanderbilt who also has rhabdo in his second relapse was there, too. His
name is Connor and he is 9 years old. Please pray for earthly healing for
Connor and that the pain he is having right now, would go away, for an
improvement when Connor's scans are repeated next Thursday, July 1 and pray
for his mom and dad. The Peasall Sisters who sang on the "O Brother Where
Art Thou?" sound track sang at church this morning and tonight and the
Oakridge Boys who are based here in Hendersonville did a concert for us
tonight. There were even indoor fireworks as part of the concert. Jason
went to a movie with friends afterwards. It was good for him to get out.

Please pray for significant healing (by Friday) for Jason's foot and no
infection, that he would be able to get his "big chemotherapy" this Friday,
that he can be walking on his foot soon, and that he can go on the Knoxville
Mission Trip as he wants. Continue praying concerning upcoming repeat scans
on July 23 and July 30 and that the cancer is gone, never to return. Thank
you for your prayers for Jason. Your love, concern and prayers for him
mean the world to us. The Great Physician is the one we are relying on for
complete healing for Jason.

Love in Christ,

June 22, 2004

Hi everyone!

Thank you so much for your prayers for Jason!! We are so happy to report that radiation is finished!! Jason endured 28 treatments with no delays from May 11 to June 18. He wanted the radiation to be finished so that he can start to heal. The burn may actually worsen over the first 2 weeks after radiation is finished and then start to improve. He still is planning on going on the mission trip to Knoxville on July 11-16.

It has been so good not to have to drive to Nashville this week. His foot is very sore, red, burnt. There was a blister on his toe that was pretty painful. A wobbly wheel on his wheelchair caused it to tilt forward and it ran over his hurt foot on June 16. (I returned that wheelchair.) A huge, painful blister came up where his foot was run over. On Friday after the last radiation they gave him permission to pop this blister. We thought it would just pop when the Saran Wrap Adhesive over it was removed, but it didn't and was getting bigger. He stuck needles in it and finally ripped a slit for it to drain. Don't know if this was so good to open it up, as it opens a door for bacteria. We need to just pray that his foot won't get infected. He can't walk easily--he just hobbles, so we will keep a wheelchair for awhile. Jason doesn't complain about the pain, but I know it hurts a lot. Please pray for his foot to heal quickly and that the cancer there is completely gone forever, as well as gone in his bone marrow and that he would never have a relapse anywhere.

His blood counts were fine at the clinic on Friday. Hematocrit was 35 and he was not neutrapenic. This is an answer to prayer. He received his chemotherapy, Vincristine, on Friday. He'll get this again next Friday and then on the Friday before July 4 he will be in the hospital for the "big" chemo treatment. The clinic called to tell me when the next scans will be. July 23 at 2pm he will have an MRI done of the foot and we'll see what effect the radiation had on the tumor. July 30 he will have another bone marrow biopsy done. I know it is a few weeks until then, but please be in prayer concerning these scans- that they would be clear.

Your prayers and concern for Jason mean so much to us. God is in control and Jason's life is in His hands. This type of cancer has claimed so many young lives. I pray that God, in his mercy, would heal Jason.

Love in Christ,


June 11, 2004

Hi everyone!
It has been two weeks since I updated. Things have been pretty much the same for Jason, but with increasing pain in his foot as he nears the end of the 28 days of radiation that started 5/11. He decided that he wanted to be admitted to the hospital for the Vincristine-Cytoxan chemotherapy that he received yesterday. The nausea and vomiting that he experienced 3 weeks ago with these 2 drugs was just too much, especially when a hospital admission means they can give IV medications that control this problem. He was admitted at 4:30PM Friday and discharged around 1:00PM Saturday. Overnight his foot became so painful that he can no longer walk on it. One of the doctors suggested today that his foot may be more swollen because of the many liters of IV fluids they gave to hydrate him for chemo and this may be the cause of the sudden increase in pain. They gave him 1 injection of morphine for pain on Friday night, but nothing today, except a prescription for very strong pain medicine-oxycodone 5mg-10 tablets. The radiation oncologist had given him a prescription last Monday for another pain medicine (not as strong)-Lortab5-500, but I didn't get it filled until today. He has been limping more and more so that on Monday the radiation oncologist also gave him a prescription for a wheelchair and that has helped a lot with clinic and radiation visits. More than half the bottom of his foot is very, very red and swollen from the radiation. He has 5 more radiation treatments to go. He doesn't have blisters yet, but the pain now is very intense. It hurts me to see him hurting so much. The ointment they gave him doesn't really do anything to relieve the pain. Please pray for Jason about this pain- that it would go away, decrease, be something he can tolerate (just however God leads you to pray for him) until radiation is finished next Friday and that he can finish the radiation this week and it won't have to be delayed because of this pain. Pray for rapid healing of this foot when the radiation is finished.

Please pray about his blood counts and please continue to pray that this cancer would not relapse. Thank you all for your love, concern and prayers for Jason.

Love in Christ,
David and Pam Archer

May 30, 2004

Hi Everyone,
Just wanted to let you know how Jason is doing. He has had a pretty good week. He is now half-way finished with radiation. He doesn't speak of having any pain in his foot, but I think that he might try to hide that if he could. (He did hide the pain as long as he could, but he finally started limping. I could tell it was really hurting him. On Monday-6/7/04 we rented a wheelchair for a month. He has 8 more days of radiation left.) It is possible that his foot really could become blistered and extremely painful before the radiation is finished. Please pray that he wouldn't have this problem, but that the radiation would be effective in killing the cancer. He had to have another radiation simulation on Friday because the markings on his foot had faded too much. It's no problem to do this for us. It just takes a lot longer for the simulation.

On Friday, his white cells, neutraphils and platelets were all good, but his hematocrit had fallen to 30. During radiation it must be 30 or above, so told them I really wanted him to get a transfusion and one of the doctors allowed 1 unit of blood to be given. Without this we would have had to have an extra clinic visit next week just to get blood counts and probably a transfusion.

Jason's schedule:
Week 18 June 4 No chemotherapy
Week 19 June 11 Vincristine-Cytoxan (VC)
Week 20 June 18 V(vincristine) and end of radiation
Week 21 June 25 V
Week 22 July 2 Vincristine-Actinomycin-Cytoxan(VAC)
Week 23 July 9 V
Week 24 July 16 V
Week 25 July 23 VAC

His best days are the ones fartherest from the combo chemotherapy treatments. With these "big" chemo treatments he is in the hospital overnight, although with just VC he was allowed to come home, but it was difficult and he really needed IV fluids so that he could keep his stomach empty. Every 12 weeks he is supposed to have repeat scans - bone marrow, PET and MRI. This would be around week 24, week 36, etc. He is to have 52 weeks of chemotherapy.

He felt well enough that he spent the night at a friend's house twice and went to another friend's graduation party. One night a friend came to watch a movie. This afternoon one of his friends came over to play video games with him. Even tonight he went out to see a movie(that new disaster movie) with a friend, while we are having all these severe storms and tornado warnings here. That he is feeling well enough to have fun with his friends is an answer to prayer. He is really hoping to be able to go on the Knoxville mission trip with our church. We are hoping that this will happen. One of the youth ministers said that we can wait until the week before the trip to give them a definite answer. This trip is July 11-16.

Thank you so much for your prayers for Jason and for our family. The Lord is sustaining us. He is constantly with us through all this and He is still in control. Please continue to pray for Jason to have complete healing and no relapse to this cancer.

Love in Christ,

May 24, 2004

Hi everyone,
Sorry I haven't written in a few days. Jason went to the clinic on Friday, May 21. His appointment was at 11:00. When I got there they said that we should have come earlier so that he could have been hydrated sooner, but Jason had already had a lot to drink. They only had to give him 2 liters of fluid (run at 1 litter/hour) before he could have his chemotherapy at 1:05PM. He only got Vincristine and Cytoxan(cyclophosphamide) because on radiation the Actinomycin has to be omitted because of radiation recall.
David and I are both pharmacists, but I really had not looked for moreinformation about his chemotherapy. David looked at a continuing education program and found that Actinomycin causes more of an immediate reaction of nausea, while the peak nausea for Cytoxan is 10-12 hours after administration. Knowing this information, Jason said, "I'm starving. Please get me a pizza." He ate it and had no problems with nausea at that point.

His radiation appointment was for 1:30 so we were late getting there as the Cytoxan took 30 minutes and even more so because Jason couldn't (or wouldn't) stop playing his computer game. They unhooked his IV as soon as the chemo was finished, but the nurse was going to hook it back up again if he didn't leave to go to radiation. I finally got to see the linear accelator where Jason gets his radiation treatment. The treatment doesn't take very long itself. What takes so long is just getting everything set up and all the marks on his foot lined up and then taping his foot down. He has had 9 radiation treatments and has 19 left to go. So far no problems, but we were warned that after 3 weeks it might become sore. After radiation he went back up to the clinic to receive another liter of fluid. They had no plans to admit him. They sent him home with an open port and Mesna to be administered at 5PM and 9PM and the instructions to drink 8 oz of fluid per hour.

He really wanted to go to his friends' graduations at Hendersonville High School at 6PM Friday and Beech High School at 6PM on Saturday. We just couldn't make it back in time for Friday's graduation---if only he hadn't played that computer game so long. He administered both doses of Mesna to himself, with saline before and after the Mesna and then a heparin flush. The syringes were all numbered for him. After the 9PM Mesna he took the needle out of his port. He did really good with drinking 8oz/hour until he started throwing up around 10PM. Of course, I am always very concerned about the damage Cytoxan can do to his bladder, but at that point I began to be even more concerned about him becoming dehydrated. He used Kytril and Benadryl-Ativan-Decadron (orally) for the nausea, but it was still pretty rough--worse than in the hospital on a IV pump containing the same 3 drugs and also receiving fluids so that dehydration isn't a concern. He was too nauseous to go to the Beech graduation, but he was going to try. His 16 year old brother Justin came to take him and Jason was ready to go and going down to get in the car, when Justin informed him that he(Justin) was going to Chelsea's after-graduation party and that I would have to come and get Jason. Jason just turned and went back to his room and nothing could get him to go then. Justin bargained to get to stay out till midnight and said he would bring Jason home if he could stay out til 12, but Jason said that he didn't want to interfere with Justin's plans. Justin didn't go to Chelsea's. He went to Josh Kidd's house and one of Jason's friends, another Josh called and talked Jason into coming over. I drove him there at 9PM on Saturday, but he still felt bad and threw up some. I feel so sorry for him and hate that he can't be having fun like all his friends at this special time in their lives. When he recovers from this chemo we plan on having a cookout and inviting a bunch of Jason's friends over.

Jason told me that he really wished that the church youth group was going to the beach again this year because he would love to have gone with his friends to the beach one last time(I hope he's just saying that to mean while they are still all friends and before they go separate ways). I
wish we personally could arrange a beach trip with some of his friends going, but so many of them have big traveling plans and/or jobs for the summer.

Jason wants to go on the Knoxville Mission Trip in July.It is in the low income housing section of Knoxville and I think Jason will probably be neutrapenic and still on Neupogen at that time.

Dr. Frangoul at Vanderbilt did talk about the uniqueness of Jason's rhabdo, just being at the original site and only in bone marrow. He said that if Jason should relapse and only in bone marrow that they would considered a bone marrow transplant for him. I hope that he never relapses.

Thanks for all your prayers for Jason. We really appreciate it.

May 17, 2004

Hi everyone!
I just wanted to let you know how things are going with Jason. On Monday, May 10, Jason went to the radiation oncologist to have a radiation simulation done. This procedure took several hours. No radiation therapy was done that day. This was just in preparation. So Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Jason had a radiation treatment. On Thursday the radiation oncologist checked the sit up they had for Jason. I really didn't understand, but somehow he didn't like it and the radiation simulation would have to be repeated on Friday. One of the technicians said that through no fault of his own, that as Jason's lay on the table for radiation, his foot just relaxed and moved ever so slightly and that somehow it would have to be immoblized for radiation. They wanted Jason back at 8:30AM on Friday, the same time as his other oncologist appointment. I called the other doctor and was told that Jason could come as early as 7:30AM the next day. We got there at 7:30 on Friday, but at first no one was there to access his port and take the blood needed for blood counts. After 10 or 15 minutes someone came and took the blood. We were at the radiation oncologist by 8:00. Somehow everything was just fine and the radiation simulation DID NOT have to be repeated. He just got his radiation treatment right away and we were finished there. Then we went back upstairs and got his blood counts, which were fine. His hematocrit remained at 32, his white count, neutraphils and platelets were even better than last Friday. With no Vincristine for weeks 13 & 14 (or weeks 16 & 17) he didn't really have to see the doctor. By 9:30 we were on our way home. Jason was very tired and slept all afternoon. I woke him up in time to leave for his graduation. Graduation was a very emotional time as parents spoke words of praise and blessing for their children. I had David speak for us. I am not very good at speaking in public. Even David cried as he spoke of what Jason is going through right now. Someone later said that Jason deserved the standing ovation as he received his diploma. It had not even registered in our minds about the ovation, until it was mentioned later.

Friday night, Jason left the graduation reception early to go to his friend Jordan's birthday party---a halo (computer game)party. They waited to cut the cake until Jason could get there. Jason spent the night there (his first sleep-over since diagnosis) and went to a movie on Saturday with other friends. It is so good to see him having fun and just doing normal things.

So this week Jason will have a radiation treatment to his foot each day. Please pray that another simulation will not be needed and that the radiation will hit exactly where it is needed and that the tumor is destroyed and no cancer cells survive. Friday, Jason will receive a "big" chemo treatment minus the actinomycin. Pray that this would go well and that Jason will get a room early in the hospital, if needed. There is a possibility that he could do this treatment and the one on week 18 at home if he comes home with an open port for me to inject the bladder rescue drug "Mesna" and if he will drink 8 oz of water per hour. We will probably have him admitted to the hospital for his antinausea pump. Jason had really wanted to go to his friends' graduations on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, but I think this would be difficult.
Thanks so much for your continued prayers for Jason. God is answering those prayers. I know He can heal Jason.

Love in Christ,
David and Pam Archer

May 5, 2004

Hi everyone! It has been awhile since I sent any updates about Jason. That's mainly because everything has been just fine with nothing new going on. Jason did go in to have his "big" chemotherapy on Friday, April 30. In the clinic, his weight was 136 pounds, the highest since back in January and his hematocrit was 35, also the highest since we had it checked back in January. It was only 31 or 32 back then. His appetite seems to have improved.

The chemotherapy was more difficult this time because there were no rooms available on 6th floor of Vanderbilt Children's Hospital which is the oncology floor. He did have a choice of waiting until a room "might" become available or of allowing the chemo to be given at the clinic and then be transferred to another floor afterwards (the other floors are not allowed to administer chemo in the new hospital). He was already hydrated and ready for chemo, and they got his antinausea medicines going, so he decided to get the chemo in the clinic. It was around 4PM. It was harder not being in a room, but he didn't throw up at all in the hospital. He woke up enough at 8 AM Saturday asking "When can I get out?", but it wasn't until 4PM that they got the discharge orders. He was so ready to go home.

He had me stop to get a Quiznos sub on the way home, and he ate it all and didn't have any trouble with nausea until around 9 or 10 PM. He probably should have taken some of the antinausea oral medicine sooner. He slept okay, but didn't go to sleep until late, and he didn't feel like going to church on Sunday. A friend of his came and spent the night Saturday night. He and Jason were headed out around 1 PM on Sunday for more Quiznos, but they didn't even get out to Gallatin Road before they had a carwreck. In swerving to keep from hitting another car, his friend went off the road and slammed into a telephone pole. It clipped the pole right off. The air bags didn't even inflate. Both boys said that they hardly felt anything from the crash. Jason's seat belt was right over his port through which he receives all his chemo, blood and IVs, and he said that it didn't hurt him at all. Wow! We just praise God that they weren't hurt. The car was not driveable and had to be carried away by a wrecker. David took the guys on to Quiznos.

For the next two weeks, Jason will receive only the chemotherapy drug, Vincristine on Fridays, as usual. Then 3 weeks from last Friday he will receive the "big" treatment minus the Actinomycin because it can cause radiation recall and lead to worse burns. On Tuesday, May 11, radiation to the foot will begin, which will last for 5 1/2 weeks every week day. After 3 weeks he may began to experience some soreness due to radiation burns to his foot.

We are praising God for what he has done so far in healing Jason, the shrinkage of the tumor and no cancer cells in the bone marrow biopsy on 4/9. Please continue to pray for complete healing and even now pray that he would never have a recurrence (which is the big problem with this kind of cancer-alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma with t(2,13) gene translocation). No matter what they say about how bad this cancer is and what they say the prognosis is, GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL AND GOD CAN HEAL JASON. Miracles still happen!!! Thank you, each and every one, for praying for Jason.

Love in Christ,
Pam Archer

On a minor note, please pray that Jason would participate in some of the senior activities going on. He has been very adamant about the fact that he is not going to his graduation ceremony, nor to the senior recognition at church. His graduation is May 14 and the senior recognition is May 16. There are other activities, such as a senior breakfast, that would be special. He won't elaborate on his reasons for not going, except to say that it would be embarrassing. Now that could be because of his bald head or just because he doesn't like attention. Even before we knew he had cancer he was not very enthusiastic about going to graduation.

April 6, 2004

Jason's appointment with the surgeon was April 6. The doctor looked at all of Jason's scans and then came in and talked to us. He said that what he would suggest is partial amputation of Jason's foot. He would take off 2 toes and the side of the foot where the tumor is. We were shocked. I had no idea that that much of his foot would have to be taken. Really I hoped that the tumor would just keep on shrinking until it was just gone. After all it has gone down from 6 cm to 2.4 cm already. I asked about that and the doctor said that even if the MRI showed no tumor at all that this is still what he would recommend. With rhabdomyosarcoma being so aggressive I guess we should have also expected aggressive surgical intervention. There are no guarantees even this will take care of the cancer since it had already spread to his bone marrow. The surgeon said that if the bone marrow is clear with no cancer cells and this tumor is removed that Jason would then be in complete remission. Sounds good, but I didn't know that complete remission just means no detectable cancer. It doesn't mean cured, but it would be a good place to be.

Jason's has put himself in their care and feels that he can trust their expert decisions on what is best for him. For the first time he said that it really doesn't matter if he dies because of this cancer since he will be going to heaven and we'll see him there someday. But I told him, "I would miss you so much."

We're not sure of a date for this surgery. It should be in the next 3 or 4 weeks. In the end, even though Jason was agreeable to surgery, it was decided to only to radiation to his foot.

Thank you for your prayers. I don't know what we would do without the hope that we have in Christ.

In him,
Pam and David Archer

Thursday, December 2, 2004 4:12 AM CST

This was the first group e-mail I wrote. It gives details about Jason's diagnosis and treatment and I have updated it somewhat.

March 29, 2004
I've been trying to find a way to keep everyone updated about Jason so I've created a group on my e-mail. Thanks for praying for Jason. If you would prefer not to be included in this group or if you know anyone who would like to be added, just let me know. Also, please feel free to forward to updates to others and to add Jason's name to prayer lists. Ultimately, no matter what the doctors do all our lives are in God's hands. We pray that God in His mercy would spare Jason's life and heal him. Thank you for your prayers.

I'll just tell it from the beginning, even though most of you know this already. Normally, I will just add a few lines as we learn more or if there is a special prayer request.

Jason turned 18 on 12/16/03. He is the oldest child of David and Pam Archer. Back in December we started noticing that he was tired, lacked enery, and slept more. He got a new trampoline for Christmas to replace the old one that broke, but he didn't use it much because it made him tired, out of breath and even made his chest hurt if he jumped. He told his grandmother that his breast bone (sternum) hurt when we were in East TN for Christmas. On Dec 31, Pam took him to the pediatrician who checked his heart and lungs and said, "I can almost guarantee that it's just growing pains." On Jan. 2, Jason had his wisdom teeth removed. After a couple of weeks it just seemed like he was more and more tired - exhausted. So in the middle of January, Pam took Jason to a different doctor and listed the same symptoms as before. They immediately did blood tests,chest X-rays, and echocardiograms. The blood tests were abnormal--pancytopenia (all cells low)--red cells, white cells and platelets were low. Blood tests were repeated the next week and the cell counts were even lower. Jason was referred to a hematology/oncology group with an appointment for 2/13, but Pam called so he could be seen that day, Feb. 3. Several tests were done including a bone marrow biopsy. The next day we were at our HCA tutorial when the doctor's office called to say that Jason had leukemia and that a bed was waiting for him at Vanderbilt. After his last class we took him on to the hospital. Over the next few days many tests were done: X-rays, CT scans and another bone marrow biopsy on Feb 5. By Feb. 6, they were sure that the accurate diagnosis was metastatic alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma with t(2;13)(q35;q14) translocation. (There's lots of info about it on the internet.) HE DOES NOT HAVE LEUKEMIA-THIS CANCER IS WORSE AND BECAUSE IT HAD SPREAD TO BONE MARROW IS ALREADY AT STAGE 4. This is a rare, very aggressive childhood cancer. Only 250-350 children in the USA get this kind of cancer each year compared to say breast cancer in adults(180,000/year). They had trouble finding the primary site of the cancer, but a PET scan showed a small area of rapidly growing cells in his left foot, confirmed by an MRI and fine needle biopsy. The tumor is so small that there is no noticeable difference between his feet and it is not painful. But cancer cells have spread to his bone marrow to such an extent that the doctors said his marrow was so full of cancer cells that there wasn't much room for him to be making normal blood cells. In fact, we later learned that all of the blood making elements in his bone marrow had been replaced by cancer cells.

Very aggressive chemotherapy was begun on the day it was diagnosed on Feb.6. He had to have a port installed in his chest through which he receives his chemotherapy. He will receive chemotherapy for 52 weeks. Jason had nausea and vomiting for 5 days after this first chemo treatment. He lost 10 pounds, going from 141 to 131. He is 6 feet tall. He is so thin now. His chemotherapy is V-A-C: Vincristin, Actinomycin & Cytoxan. Every Friday he gets Vincristin and every 3rd Friday he must be admitted to the hospital, put on IV's and given all 3 drugs. (A metabolite of Cytoxan can erode the lining of the bladder so they must give a lot of IV fluids plus a rescue drug called Mesna to protect his bladder). For several days after this "big" treatment his stomach is upset and within 7 to 10 days his white blood count drops to zero. The last 2 times when his count went to zero he started running a fever. A fever of 100.4 means he must be admitted to the hospital and put on IV antibiotics.

On Friday, March 27, Jason and I (Pam) spent the day at the hospital and clinic. He had another PET scan done at 7:00, another MRI done at 10:30 and his Vincristine. Dr. Domm called with the results of the PET scan. In this test radioactive glucose is injected, you wait an hour during which rapidly growing cells take up this glucose and then the scan is done. The image in the scan is not really clear, so other tests are done to confirm, but this is the test that was used to find Jason's primary cancer site. Dr. Domm said that the scan was clear. The tumor in his foot did not take up the glucose, so apparently it is not growing right now. This is an answer to prayer. The MRI results on Monday will tell us more about how the tumor looks- if it is smaller. David is praying that it will just miraculously be gone. The results of the MRI show that the tumor is reduced in size from 6 cm to 2.4 cm. Today, Friday, April 2, Jason was supposed to have another bone marrow biopsy done, but he had problems with vomiting and diarrhea and then began running a fever Thursday night. They've had to postpone the bone marrow biopsy until next Friday, April 9. The biopsy will complete the picture to show if his cancer is going into remission. The biopsy results we got on April 9 showed no cancer cells in the bone marrow. Today at the clinic Jason was given fluid for dehydration and 2 units of blood. He is pretty tired tonight and he's still having trouble with his stomach.

Jason went for a preliminary visit to a surgeon on Tuesday, April 6. They will need to get out any remaining tumor if they can get him in remission. The surgeon recommended that Jason have a partial amputation of his left foot removing 2 toes and 1/3 of the side of his foot and he called this a limb-sparing surgery. He was going to proceed with this by the end of April, but instead we opted to have just radiation done. Jason had 6 weeks (every week day) of radiation to his left foot, that caused huge blisters. It was so painful that he had to have a wheel chair for over 5 weeks. Radiation ended on 6/18.

April 9 will be the next "big" chemo treatment when he will be admitted to the hospital at least overnight, so he will be in the hospital at least some of Easter weekend. Thank you all for praying for Jason. This kind of cancer is very aggressive, often returns and becomes resistant to treatment, BUT our God is mightier than any disease and He is able to heal Jason. Our hope is in God who made heaven and earth.

Love in Christ,
David and Pam Archer

Wednesday, December 1, 2004 11:32 AM CST

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by to check on Jason. This week he has been to the clinic each day for chemo. The nausea has not been controlled. The medicines he usually takes haven't helped much at all. He has been miserable and has decided to quit treatment. He doesn't even want to go back tomorrow and after talking with the oncologist, treatment has ended. His nausea began improving as soon as he knew that he won't have to have chemo tomorrow. In some ways this is a relief, as I won't have to watch him endure the chemo anymore, but off-treatment is a scary place for any cancer patient.

The plan had been for him to finish this week and then 3 more weeks of chemo for a total of 8 cycles of this chemo, ending on the first week of February for a full 1 year of treatment. We had hoped he could complete the recommended schedule, but the side-effects have become intolerable. Whether it is 5 treatments or 8 treatments there are no guarantees. God is not limited by this and can heal him with or without completion of 8 treatments. Please pray that all the cancer cells are gone from his body and that he never has a relapse as there will be no more chemo.

Thank you for your concern and prayers for our dear son.

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