Friday, November 30, 2007


As I sit here typing, Jospeh's still sweet body rests a few feet from me. Allen is *trying* to sleep on the tiny couch in the room, but his 6'5" body doesn't quite fit. Gillian is (thankfully) still asleep at home. Allen refuses to leave Joseph's side but has agreed to sleep as long as someone stays awake in the room.

The plan is to alternate shifts so that he can get some much needed sleep. As I mentioned, the nurse has to come in and check Joseph's eyes and other vitals every hour, so its quite the disturbance to his rest. And if any of us need rest, it is definitely Joseph.

I ask that you pray for hope and rest for Allen and Gillian. I ask that you pray that our heavy hearts find respite. I ask that you pray for joy in the midst of this horrindus situation. I ask that you pray for little Joseph as he is confused and in pain.

Looking at my precious nephew in a sea of cords and gadgets coming out of his body is heartbreaking. As Matt just reminded me on the phone, Joseph is in God's hands and God is with him right here in this room. We have to trust that.


Another message from Allen

I am with Allen & Joseph. Joseph is currently resting/stirring a bit.

Allen & Gillian are reading your comments and there is even a computer right here in Joseph's room, thus the update. Thank you all for your encouraging words.

Here is the email Allen sent out moments ago:

"Friends and Family-As Jennifer has posted at, Joseph hascome out of surgery and is in the PICU sleeping a lot with lots of newIVs and monitors. The surgery did not go as planned as they couldonly remove about 1/3rd of the tumor. It was difficult to distinguishthe tumor tissue from the normal brainstem tissue. So initialpathology was inconclusive and we have to wait until Tuesday orWednesday for the final pathology to come back. But it looks likeit's either an astrocytoma, an ependymoma, or something weird andrandom. Depending on what it is, he will either need to go back tosurgery to try to remove all that they can, or we will get set up withchemo or radiation therapy as indicated. An astrocytoma cannot besurgically removed.Once again we are amazed at the amount of support we have received.Please continue to pray for him and for us. The hardest part (if youknow Joe then you will appreciate it) is that he has to sit still inbed with lots of stuff hooked up to him. Please pray that he will becalm and let every test that needs to be done happen. Please alsopray that somehow the pathology will come back with good news (the twopossibilities before are not good). Please also pray that Gillian andI can keep it together enough to be there for him and help calm himdown.Thanks to all who are praying and who have emailed, dropped by, orcalled. For the future to any who would like to visit, we are in thePICU and we cannot have food in the room. Also only two people can bein the room at the same time, so you probably won't get to see him,but we love seeing people in the waiting room. A lot of our family ishere and they enjoy company in the waiting room too.Thanks so much and keep praying,Allen, Gillian, Joe, and Holly"

Afternoon update from Jennifer...

I am here in the PICU at the Children's hospital at Emory. I arrived about an hour after Allen and Gillian recieved the news that the surgery did not go as well as they expected it to. As Matt mentioned in the previous blog, they could only remove about 1/3 of the tumor before they began to have a hard time deciphering the tumor from the actual brain tissue. This is of course, not what everyone had hoped for.

I saw Joseph and he looks so much better than I had expected him to look. He is recovering well and is very alert, asking for his cars and drinks of water. One of the first things he said to Gillian was "take this off me!" as he held up his hand which is punctured by the IV. If you have spent any time with Joseph, you know that he is strong willed and spirited. I know this is working to his advantage for his recovery.

The doctors are keeping him medicated with morphine, but it is just enough to keep the pain down so he can rest and not be knocked out completely. Over the next 24 hours, he will be woken on the hour to be checked. They have to shine a flashlight in both eyes, which is a bit uncomfortable for him.

Tomorrow morning, another MRI will be performed on the tumor. I will let you all know any news that follows the MRI. He will be in recovery here in the PICU for the next couple of days and then be transfered back to a room in the main hospital.

I sat with Gillian in the waiting area as she wrote down the following prayer requests on a post-it note before heading off for some sleep. Her requests are as follows:

1. Pray that there would be no infection from the surgery.
2. Pray that Joseph would be calm and able to sleep/rest.
3. Pray that the doctors can figure out what exactly the tumor is and that it is benign.
4. Pray that Allen and Gillian can rest and be strong for Joe.
5. Pray that they can rest in Jesus' love.

Allen is currently resting with Joseph in the room in the PICU. Gillian has gone home for the first time to rest. They have slept so little. I urge you to pray for them and for their spirits following the bad news about the surgery.

I cannot imagine going through this without knowing the hope that Jesus offers us. That hope is carrying us all through this. Thank you for your prayers. And thank you Holly, for the treats and the ride for Gillian.

PS - For those of you having trouble posting because you're not registered, you should now be able to do so.

Surgery complete

The biopsy wrapped up just a little while ago. Unfortunately they were only able to remove about 1/3 of the tumor. Joseph is in recovery now and doing alright. Jennifer is about 45 mintues outside of ATL, so we should know more once she gets there.


Surgery has begun...

Hey all.  This is Matt, Jen's husband.  She is on the road to Atlanta this morning.  Please pray for safe travels for her this morning as she goes to be with her family.

Joseph is currently in surgery.  It began at approximately 8am EST, and it will last anywhere from 6-14 hours.  Please continue to pray for the surgeons, that they will have steady hands, as well as wisdom as to what to remove and what not to remove.  Also pray for peace for Allen & Gillian, as they helplessly wait on the results of the surgery.

I will do my best to keep this updated while Jennifer is unable to.

We love you, Joe P.

Uncle Matt

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A message from Allen

Allen sent an email out earlier which gives a few more details & requests than I have offered you:

"Most of you have heard by now, but yesterday we took Joseph to
Egleston Children's hospital to get an MRI of his head because of some
changes that we were noticing. The MRI showed a mass in the back of
his brain on the brainstem compressing some of the nerves. They
admitted us to the hospital for further tests and for surgery tomorrow
(11/30). An MRI today did not show any spread of the tumor to the
spinal column which is good news. He does have some deafness in his
left ear which may or maynot be permanent. Overall he has not enjoyed
his stay here (except for all the toys and presents that people keep
bringing) and has not slept much at all. Gillian is doing great
except for not sleeping, and our families have come down to help with

Tomorrow's surgery is the most important part of his overall treatment
and prognosis. They do not know what the tumor is and will not know
for sure until the pathology has been read which won't be until next
week. So the key is to remove as much as possible no matter what kind
of tumor it is. The surgery could last anywhere between 6-14 hours
and he will go to the PICU for a couple of days afterwards. Then he
will need lots of rehabilitation.

We have been overwhelmed by all the calls and emails and people
telling us that people are asking or praying about Joe, and we ask
that all of you continue to pray for him especially tomorrow and pray
that the tumor will be easily and completely removed without any
complications. Thank you all so much for keeping us in your prayers
and for visiting/calling/emailing."

Where we are

I am Jennifer, Joseph's aunt & sister to his dad Allen. I have decided to start this blog for all of the many friends and family members who care so much for Allen & Gillian. I do not want to use last names at this public blog, so let's respect that when we all leave comments. And it is so encouraging to read the comments that have been left on my personal blog which has hosted the details of Joseph's dilemma since it began to unfold yesterday.

What is Joseph's dilemma? Yesterday, an MRI showed a tumor on the stem of his brain. The tumor is in a very delicate spot and surgery is being performed tomorrow (Friday). What I have been told is that they will extract as much of the tumor as possible to be biopsied. Sometime midweek next week, the results should be in. The doctors have been realistic with Allen & Gillian, and told them that the possibility that this tumor is malignant is high and at the best, 50/50.

Joseph has suffered hearing loss and some vision loss, which we hope and pray is temporary. He is just 3 years old and of course, longing to get out of the bed and play, as any boy his age would be.

Many of you have asked me what led up to having Joseph tested. It started several weeks ago when Joseph began to tilt his head to the side a lot. A visit to his Pediatrician produced no alarm in the doctor. Then, earlier this week, Joseph began falling. Another visit to his doctor secured an appointment with an Opthamologist as his Pediatrician felt it to be a visual disturbance. Before seeing the Opthamologist, Allen had his suspicions and after talking with some of the doctors where he is in residency at Emory in Pediatrics, they decided to bring him in for the MRI yesterday morning. And of course what followed was the earth shattering news that their child had a brain tumor and it could be malignant...

There are some specific things I would ask that you pray for Joseph and our family tonight. First, that Joseph can have a peaceful night in his hospital room. Last night was not good and he needs rest and comfort. Secondly, I ask that you pray for skill and wisdom to be with the doctors tomorrow as they perform delicate risky surgery on Joseph's brain to remove as much of this horrid tumor as possible. Third, I ask that you pray for the agonizing 8-15 hours that the family will have to wait for news during the surgery. Sitting for that long without your baby while he undergoes a very serious and delicate surgery has got to be heart wrenching.

I am heading down to Atlanta in the morning. I will try and keep this blog updated as much as possible and I will most likely have my husband log on and and give you all the latest news.

Thank you for all of your support, concern, and mostly - your prayers.