Updated! Joshua's Journey- A family's faith through cancer.

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UPDATE! - Look for a new chapter at the end of this article

We reprint a recent announcement from an Orleans family helping their young son during cancer treatment. You'll find two paragraphs highlighted that provide a brilliant insight into what Paul wrote of in Romans 5:3-5, concerning suffering and faith.

a final, long... update taking you back through some of the journey for Joshua

by Paula  on Sunday, 01 May 2011 at 04:04

Dear family and friends,

This is the news we have been waiting, and believing, we would be able to share with you. Joshua is in REMISSION! We are deeply thankful. Praise God. Joshua's CT scan showed that the mass on his chest was shrinking, but still showed evidence of the cancer. The Nuclear scan showed no 'uptake', which means that even though the mass is still there it is showing no malignancy! This is the news we needed to hear!

 

Joshua will be followed very closely for the next two years; and then watched, but not as closely until he reaches the five year mark. On that day we pray we can announce him as 'cured'. Until then we pray, and we ask you to pray, that this remission holds. We believe that God is in control, and in that control we rest at peace. We have much to be thankful for, but we also know that the type of Hodgkins Lymphoma he has is known to rear its ugly head at times. Yet we will not live in fear, for we have learned first hand that God will provide. That His grace is enough.

 

Since the day my brother was diagnosed with a terminal cancer last year this time, through my dad's sudden illness and death, and then our son's diagnosis and aggressive treatment of cancer we have learned how to believe, and how to trust more than we have our whole lives.

Joshua very early on in his diagnosis needed to hear the truth. He would ask me almost every hour if he was going to die. I would promise him he wasn't. After my sister gently showed to me that I was not being honest with him, I realized I was not helping his fear. I held Joshua in my arms, as I did the day we told him he had cancer, and told him I could not promise him he would not die. He cried. He asked me what the chances were. I told him very good. He would not accept this answer. He pushed for truth, and asked what the percent was for him to survive. I said, very, very good. He would not accept that. Finally he did the numbers until I finally said yes the chances are 90% survival. After this day he never asked if I would promise him if he would live again. Shorly after this conversation he lay in bed at night and said, "I am not scared to die, for I know I will be in heaven and it is way better there, but I am just sad for you." It is that strength and that love that made this journey a remarkable one.

One day very early on he found me crying. I seldom cry infront of my kids. He was sure something very bad had happened. I told him I was just sad that my little boy had to have cancer. He then said, "Don't be sad, I am going to fight really hard to beat this, and if I die, it will be OK because I will have fought." Of course this just wanted to make me weap even harder, but again it showed me a courage and strength that made this journey a remarkable one.

Driving in the van one day after again talking about the seriousness of what lay ahead with treatment soon starting, he said not remembering that his granddad said something almost identical when he was diagnosed with cancer, "I just hope that no one is put off by God because God sure is helping me!". Again, this faith and this love made this journey a remarkable one. His kisses, his humming, whistling and singing worship music, the determination to play hard and live big, his cute bald head, his laughter, his gentle spirit of love, his kindness all made taking care of Joshua a priviledge. Often on the way to treatment he would leave the house in fear, and yet sing his heart out in praise music all the way to the hospital. One drive I remember sneaking a peak in my rear view mirror and seeing him singing to Jesus, eyes shut tight and arm raised in the air; seeking His Maker for strength. He has learned at ten the greatest lesson in life.

Joshua was pushed to the limit, suffering with generalized anxiety disorder and phobic disorder, but in that his strength and courage grew as he faced his fears. He did not overcome them, but he rose and faced them.

God is more than amazing. We prayed, believing, that God would not let our little man have cancer as we awaited the original test results four months ago. God did not hold back this burden from us. In His wisdom He allowed this to enter our lives. We will not fully know why, but this we do know, it taught us in a most profound way that God is able to take care of us in our deepest times of need.

Joshua's life changed the day he was given the diagnosis of cancer. In many ways his life changed forever. Some of that change we would wish had not entered his wee life; but some of that change we would not trade. Joshua told me that he believes his faith is stronger because of this. This did not come without wrestling with his faith. Driving in to a chemotherapy treatment very early on, in tears, he told me he thought his faith was gone. Honestly, I think this scared him as much as the cancer.

God gave me the words for my little man. I told him his faith was not gone. Joshua is a snow boarder, so I told it to him this way. "Joshua, when you snow board for a long, long time, and work very hard and you first take off your board your muscles feel very weak. You feel almost like your muscles are weaker than they were before you went on the hill. Then imagine if you were in a tournament and you boarded for hours and hours, how weak your muscles would feel; almost like your muscles were gone. Now if you trained and you worked those muscles hard like that, feeling that weakness for a long time; in the end your muscles would become stronger than they have ever been. This is what it is like for your faith right now. You are on a faith marathon. You are working those faith muscles harder than you have ever had to work them. And they are tired, and they feel like they are gone. Your faith muscles are not gone; and in the end your faith muscles will be stronger than they have ever been."

Today Joshua's faith is stronger.

I do not even know how to properly thank each one of you for the role you have played in this journey. Thank you for the endless prayers. We have felt sustained by your faithful prayers. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring.

Please accept my apology for not sending personal thank you cards for all the many expressions of love. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the many meals, money to help with expenses, and gift baskets to show your support to our family. Not one gift went unnoticed. Each little suprise that came brought to our home a gift of light and love often when we needed it the most.

And thank you, and again please accept my apology for this not being a personal note, for the outpouring of gifts for Joshua. You met the need in the heart of a ten year old in a way that brought joy and a reassurance of love that deeply affected his days. He felt overwhelmed often by the measure of love that was shown to him. He wants to thank each and every one of you who sent even the smallest gift to cheer him. You put a smile on his face that we will never forget. As parents we sincerely thank you.

Now we ask you to pray with us that this remission is forever. We ask you to pray that over the next six months as his immune system heals and his blood returns to normal that he is protected from infection as he re-enters the world. We ask you to pray that in five years we can share that he is cured from his cancer.

But above all, we ask you to pray that we will always trust God with all our heart. Our desire above all is to seek first God's Kingdom. We were taught again and again in this journey to surrender, and with that lesson still very clear on our hearts we close this chapter of the journey for now; believing that no outcome is out of the control and watch of our Redeemer.

Love Paula and Steve

Update: in late Spring of this year (2011) Paula's  teenage daughter, Brittany, developed a lump on her collar bone over a couple of weeks while they vacationed in Florida. Initial examination confirmed an enlarged lymph node, a symptom consistent with the lymphoma that had so recently been battled by Joshua her brother. An emergency MRI was scheduled upon their return to Ontario, and an urgent prayer request went out on Facebook. It should be noted that even then Brittany's communications were filled with the faith that seems to characterize this whole family. On the Wednesday that the MRI was scheduled, and a fervent prayer was raised at Redeemer Alliance Church and Saint Andrew's United Church, the Ernst family discovered that the lump had disappeared. The MRI was cancelled, and an ultrasound  and surgical consultation confirmed that there was no evidence remaining of the enlarged lymph node.  We are continuing to praise God for the faith of the Ernst family, and of this gracious answer to prayer.