Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Update on Jonah

To all our friends and family,

Thank you again for your overwhelming demonstration of love and support since we found out on Monday night that Jonah has High Risk (because he is older than 9) B-Cell A.L.L (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). I know many of you have been waiting for an update on Jonah, so I'll start with that.

Jonah's first night in the hospital was rough—lots of needles and tests and interrupted sleep. But yesterday morning, Jonah was able to watch a little baseball and visit with Uncle Ethan (my brother) who has a great gift for keeping Jonah laughing. In the afternoon, my dad and I got to spend several hours at the hospital, and Jude (our 8-year-old) was able to come with us. This was a good opportunity set Jude's mind at ease and allow him to see what Jonah's going to be doing for the next several weeks. Jude decided to stay the night in the hospital last night. He'd much rather be there sleeping in a recliner next to Jonah than sleeping in his bunk bed all alone.

Yesterday was a difficult day for Jonah in some respects, however. Jonah had to be sedated to have a PICC line inserted (like an IV but it delivers medication much deeper in the body and will stay in for this whole first month). While he was under he also had a spinal tap and a bone marrow sample taken. He also has received blood at least twice now, and it's amazing how his color has improved as a result. (Donate blood!)

Jonah's second day in the hospital
Jonah had a lot of pain at the insertion site of the PICC line at first, but that has subsided. Removing the IV was also near the list of his least favorite experiences, but he was relaxed and smiling again by the time I went home. He had an EKG done just before we left, and he was very relieved that it didn't involve any needles. Jonah also received his first of many doses of chemo. Because Jonah's spinal fluid was clear of any cancer cells, he is not likely to need radiation in addition to the chemo. That in itself is an answer to prayer.

We have had to absorb a lot of information during these last two days, so we're in for a steep learning curve, but we're also grateful for the highly trained staff that have been ready to answer our questions. There are four pediatric oncologists just at this one hospital, and we are thankful for their expertise in this one field of medicine. Jonah is in good hands—both human and divine.

The first four weeks of Jonah's treatment will be the most intense, and he will need to stay in the hospital throughout the first month, during which time he is likely to go through some of the worst side-effects of the chemo. Because Spokane is more than an hour away from our home, Jonah will not be allowed to return home for at least another 8 weeks after that. Then, if everything goes according to plan, he will continue to receive treatment periodically for the next 3 years. In between treatments, Jonah should be able to return to most of his normal activities, including sports (which is a huge deal for him).

Jonah, Jayson, and Jude were all able to rest soundly last night, and we're thankful that Jonah has had a bit of a break today from being a human pincushion. One particular highlight of the day was a visit from a good friend from our church in Dallas. Luis Ortiz has been a profession baseball player (formerly with the Rangers) and is now a batting coach. He happened to be in Spokane this week for an annual scouting visit with the Spokane Indians (one of the Rangers' farm teams), so he was able to come to the hospital this morning and talk baseball with Jonah—probably Jonah's favorite topic of conversation in the world lately. Luis told Jonah that when he comes back next year he'd love to take Jonah to a game and bring him to batting practice with the team. Talk about something to look forward to! Jonah is also looking forward to a little visit from his friend Rory today, and Jayson's mom and brother will be flying from Phoenix tonight. Jayson's mom is planning to stay for as long as we need her, which will be a tremendous blessing for all of us.

I have cried more than I can remember during these last two days. But half the time the tears have come when I see how well God has cared for our family and how many people love us with the love of Christ and are ready to sacrifice their time and resources on our behalf. I have also seen God's provision in ways we could never have foreseen.

My brother's family just moved back to town a few weeks ago, and because he was here, my brother was able to drop everything and take Jayson and Jonah to Spokane as soon as we got the news. He is also staying with Jonah tonight to allow Jayson and me to give some time to our other boys.

My dad was also scheduled to fly to Canada the night of Jonah's diagnosis, so he had already taken the week off of work and was able to cancel his travel plans to stay here for us. Jayson could not work for a better college during a time like this; his colleagues have already lined up to take over teaching classes for him and help cover his other work responsibilities while he's away.

One of Jaysons' colleagues who is an elder at our church has a daughter who had childhood cancer, and she was already scheduled for her annual routine scan today at the same hospital where Jonah is. Because  of this, they were able to come and visit Jonah and Jayson and offer helpful advice and encouragement—and bring a heap of cards for Jonah.

And one of my oldest and dearest friends, Annie, has taken charge of organizing all kinds of help for us and was here just this morning to bring groceries and clean.

These unexpected blessings seem to be raining down on us in ways we could never have anticipated. Our church family has surrounded us with more help than I can possibly list here. We have people ready to take care of carpooling, garden watering, meals, cleaning, grocery shopping, and much more. I opened the mailbox this morning to find an envelope containing an anonymous gift of several hundred dollars. Another friend who owns a local coffee shop (Thank you, Bucer's!) e-mailed me to let me know that an extremely generous account was set up there in our name so that we can grab lunch or lattes on busy days. We have other friends who live in Spokane and have offered to help—one of whom is letting Jayson borrow a car today so that he can get home to have dinner with us tonight.

We are grateful for so many things, but we are especially grateful for your prayers. They do not fall on deaf ears. In addition to Jonah's healing, our most immediate need for prayer is for the planning stages of this situation. Jonah will need to keep up with his schooling as much as possible, so we have details to sort out on that front. We are also going to try to keep life as normal as we can for the other four boys, so that they can continue at school and maintain their own friendships there. At the same time, we need to figure out a place to stay in Spokane for the next three months and decide how, where, and when we might be able to continue to function as a family during Jonah's time in the hospital. We don't yet know how to divide our time and our family for three months between two cities that are 90 miles apart. We will be spending more time in the car during these months than we've ever spent before, so we also need to find worthwhile ways to spend that commute time.

Thank you for your love, your kind words, your generosity, and your prayers. God bless you all. He is our rock, our fortress and our deliverer; our God is a rock, in whom we take refuge, our shield and the horn of our salvation. He is our stronghold, our refuge and our savior.



Mary Shearouse said...

Hannah, we so enjoyed meeting your family this summer at the Harrell's picnic. We have been praying for you all ever since we heard and will continue to do so. And we are thankful that our prayers for your comfort and encouragement have already begun to be answered.

Love from Nova Scotia,
Mary Shearouse

Christine said...

Hannah, I just wanted to tell you I have been thinking about y'all a lot these last couple of days, and praying for y'all.

Diane Garaway said...

Hannah, thank you for the detailed update on Jonah. Many around the world are praying for him and the family and we appreciate the specific needs shared. We will continue to lift you up as you navigate the path that God has set before you.
With much love,
Diane and Bill Garaway

Erika said...

We found out while having a girls cousin get together, stopped everything and prayed for Jonah, he will continue to be on all of our prayer lists!

Bree said...

We love you guys.
Gideon would like to come for a visit. Maybe he and I can drive down for a day or two. We'll keep you posted.
Praying. Praying. Praying.

Anonymous said...

Just a little thought...I did this when caring for my Dad who had cancer and it was a huge help to me: take notes on EVERYTHING given/done/said, along with dates and names of drs/nurses/techs/etc. (And the funny and precious moments added in, too!) Also ask for copies of ALL test results, and put all the notes, results, etc. in a special 3-ring binder. It helped to "free my brain" of trying to remember everything.

Ann said...

I'm Leanne Van Gilder's mother-in-law and wanted you to know that we also have asked others to pray for you and your family. I've asked a few of my Spokane friends to pray, too. God's family is generous with prayers, and more when we know the needs. I cried as I read your blog. I can feel how precious Jonah is to you, your family, and God. May you continue to find daily blessings on this journey.

Bethany said...

Praying for your little guy, you and your family!

Carissalayla said...

Thank you Hannah for the update. I am here for you even from far away, Many hugs!

Anonymous said...

I am Carrie Smith, I do not know you, but your post showed up on news because a friend reposted it. I want you to know that my prayers are with you all, from complete healing for your son to strength, grace, & peace. I urge you only think positive thoughts, God said ask with faith & you will receive, He also said in Jeremiah 29, that He knows the plan He has for you, plans to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future, & that He will not harm you! Your positive thought will cause the devil to flee you! Also, since you will be in your car so much, you may already have K-love tuned in, if you do not, please set it to one of your stations, you will not regret it!

Anonymous said...

Dear Hannah,

I came across your blog recently when it was referred to on another blog I follow. I cried as I read your latest post - I can't imagine what you're going through but I do know that our Heavenly Father is faithful and loves Jonah more than we can imagine.

I will continue to lift you and your family up in prayer, and will ask my church family to pray too.

With much love.
Heather (Cambridge, UK)

Meggie said...

I also do not know you, but saw your blog from a post of fb. I just wanted to let you know we are praying for your family as you navigate this difficult time. My mommas heart breaks for your family.
The road will likely be long and hard, but Jesus will carry you.
Blessings on your family,
Meg from Boise, ID

Anonymous said...

Hannah--met you all at Faith PC in Tacoma a few weeks ago. I have access to the latest research on any condition and can email you summaries. The treatment protocols for ALL are complex and the more you know, the better you will be able to choose what is best in consultation with the oncologist. My email is and if you will respond as to your preference I will be happy to send you info. The more diagnostic information you can send me (such as Philadelphia chromosome positivity, ploidy, CD markers etc) the more fine-tuned will be what I send you. You may find it easier to just scan the lab reports or doctors' notes and pdf them to me. We prayed for you all tonight at Faith's prayer mtg and will continue to do so. Paul Darby, MD; Elder, Faith PCA, Tacoma.

Kristina Miller said...

Hello Mrs. Grieser,

I was reading your two posts directly before this one, and was struck with how God has been preparing you for this: the nearness of death, the magic of new life from a dead seed. I think of the following passage:

"I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and your waves passed over me. Then I said, 'I have ben cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet you have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple. Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord."

That was prayed by your son's namesake, and I'm praying it now for him.

Anonymous said...

Greetings in the Lord dear Hannah. My name is Leigh-Ann Brann. I am a friend of Michael and Molly Hutchins in Windsor Maine. I will tell you that you are and will be in our prayers continually. As the mom of 7, my heart aches for you sister. I know God has his everlasting arms around your boy and surely loves him. Be still and be strong. Leigh-Ann Brann -my email is

Melissa Joy said...

We will be continuing to pray for your family, from Jonah himself all the way through your extended family & church family, during this season of trial! Thank you for posting updates here so we know best how to pray. What a blessing to know how the Body of Christ is rallying to support you through this season.
With you at the Throne of Grace,
Melissa Joy,
(matron of an offshoot of the David Bennett family)

Saramaria said...

Dear Hannah,
We will be praying for you from Austin, TX. I know that God loves you and Jonah-- all of you! And I know you rest in the shadow of His wing. And yet as a fellow mother my heart breaks and my tears fall with yours.
Peace of Christ,

Jennifer Perry said...

Dear Hannah,

Thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed update so that we know how best to pray. Remember that God never gives us a challenge without also giving us the
strength to overcome it if we but ask in His name. I am praying that you and Jayson will receive that strength in abundance over the next few weeks and years. And, of course, praying for complete healing for little Jonah's body!

Love and prayers from Virginia,
Jen (Duitman) Perry

Linda French said...

If Jonah needs a bone marrow transplant, I am willing. I have B- blood.

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