Journal

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Dear friends, thank you so much for your prayers during Josh's most recent ER and hospital visit. We are finally home! I had hoped to get this out earlier, especially after posting specifically that we were concerned about possible sepsis. We have good news! We are happy to report and grateful to the Lord that he did NOT have sepsis! Our hearts skipped a few beats when that was being thrown around the hospital room earlier this weekend, as you can well imagine. But Praise God they were able to rule that out!


It's hard to remember all of the details during our weekend stay, but I will try to give you the "nutshell". Lack of sleep, multiple doctors and teams coming in and out of your hospital room make for many blurred days!


After we learned that he had been put on a sepsis protocol, I updated caring bridge right away so that we could get everyone praying. Well, prayers were answered on that account, and as I mentioned we were so thankful and relieved! But we still had to figure out what was going on and why Josh was experiencing so much pain and discomfort. During the ER visit, they had started him on some additional pain meds through IV. That seemed to help in addition to the oral meds he was already taking.


We met with several oncology teams during the next two days in the hospital. A few things that we were trying to address during this time: pain management, ascites (fluid build up in the abdomen) and overall discomfort.


After several blood tests and cultures, it was determined that there was an infection in the fluid around his abdomen called Spontaneous Bacteria Peritonitis (SBP). Peritonitis is basically the lining around the belly. They had already started him on an antibiotic for the possible sepsis, so they continued the antibiotics and we came home with an oral prescription for the week as well. Hopefully this will get cleared up and will help with some of the pain and discomfort.


Because of the ascites (fluid build up) and the infection involved, they also decided to perform a paracentesis. This is a procedure that Josh had once before several weeks ago and the purpose of it is to remove fluid from the peritoneal cavity or abdomen. The doctor goes in through the abdomen with a long needle covered by a plastic sheath to reach the fluid. The needle is then removed, leaving the plastic sheath to allow drainage of the fluid. The first time he had this done, they extracted just under 1 liter. This time, they were able to drain 2 liters of fluid. Josh noticed a difference immediately!


On Sunday morning, Josh woke up and was feeling pretty good. He felt strong and ready to go home! Not long after, he started feeling shaky, weak and his blood pressure was extremely high. We weren't sure if we would be able to leave after all. But after meeting with the doctor again and going over a plan, it was decided that Josh would be discharged and we would be heading home.


Before leaving the hospital, Josh had a consult with a physical therapist to help with exercises and to encourage ways to maintain his strength. Richard was awesome! He and Josh bonded over military talk and he really pushed Josh to work his body to keep it strong. He gave us some awesome tips and things to try at home! 


Before we knew whether or not we would be going home or not, we arranged with Josh's sisters, Kim and Kippi, to bring the kids down for a visit. It was so nice to see them! Yes, Father's Day was a little different this year, but thankfully we ended up going home and celebrated the BEST dad ever! 


Josh and I believe more than ever that we are fighting not just a battle against cancer.  This is such a spiritual battle and we are reminded of it daily! As hard as it is and as much as we would rather be spending our days doing other things, God continues to pull us closer to Him. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father will never be the same. I don’t like cancer. In fact, I hate it! I hate that other people have to battle it too. But it has caused us to shift our eyes on something MORE and for that we are grateful. We are still in the fight. Josh is determined...he’s still a WARRIOR!!!


Please pray for:

-strength in this spiritual battle we are in

-Josh’s physical strength

-Josh’s appetite

-continued pain management

-appointment tomorrow that it would go well and we would feel peace

-complete HEALING


Thanks/Praise:

-thanks to the GVFD guys who helped make Josh’s dream come true this weekend...a backyard shed!!

-family and friends who rally to help at the drop of a hat with Kids, cleaning, ER visits, rides, movie dates, chicken adventures & 40-hour play dates, etc. (Shoemaker crew, Galstad crew, Pankake crew, Winkler crew, Kim, Kippi, Patty, Char, Holly, Leah, Mom & Dad,

-amazing support from Plymouth Covenant Church, Golden Valley Fire, Maple Grove Fire, West Metro Fire

-the “Golden Valley Friend”...you are a mystery to us, but God sees you and your incredible generosity

-the mystery person who left a gift clipped on our fridge ;-)

-the meals prepared for our family each week

-the Fire Chief who sees our journey as unique but shares the same emotions and struggles...your thoughtfulness to our kids touched our hearts

-our three neighbor guys who collectively worked on our broken lawn mower, Carl, Bob and Ron...thank you!

-Keller’s for gifting us your chickens, the coop and supplies...they have brought so much JOY already!


Wow...I could go on and on...I wish I could name EVERY single person. Please know that if I didn’t list you it’s because my brain is too full to remember. I am sorry! One day I look forward to a celebration of you and ALL the good gifts of time, love and support you’ve given to our family! Wow!!


Josh and I continue to feel humbled by your love and support.
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Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Josh is back in ER. After a few good days at home, Josh woke up yesterday not feeling quite right. He was experiencing more pressure in his abdomen than usual, continued pain even with the pain meds, feeling light-headed and just overall not good. He wanted to go in and get things checked out, hoping that possibly draining the fluid in his abdomen would relieve some pressure and discomfort. We arrived at the U of M ER around noon and after several hours, they admitted Josh to the hospital for additional testing and assessment.


In the ER they ended up doing blood work and another CT scan. Josh had a fall on Tuesday and they wanted to rule out any possible fractures, internal bleeding or anything else that could be going on as a result of that fall.


The scan came back clear. No bleeding or internal fractures. There was still a considerable amount of fluid in his abdomen and they wanted to determine if there was an infection going on before doing any draining. So they drained a little amount of fluid to run some cultures. They did start him on some antibiotics just in case but we won’t know until today or even in the next couple days what the results are.


We spent about 9 hours in ER and finally made it to a room around almost 10:00 pm last night.


Pain is under control. But this morning, due to consistent high and abnormal blood pressure, they have been checking his vitals every 30 minutes. His blood pressure has been elevated considerably and now they are following protocol for sepsis.


So more bloodwork to check for that. Please pray! We are feeling weary. And the latest about possible sepsis is leaving us both feeling anxious and worried. We are praying nonstop for peace, healing and favor. But we want to invite more prayers.

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Okay so with everything going on, I sometimes have moments of forgetfulness!! Yikes!!


Last Thursday, our sweet friend, Tonya, sent me this song. She said in her text message, “every time I hear this song, I think of you.”


Guess what??? The song is called WARRIOR!! Give it a listen!!


Wow! How cool is that!! Do you see a theme?!



Journal entry by Christine Richardson

You guys! Today we have seen so many answers to prayer! Actually EVERY SINGLE prayer I posted last night was answered!! So thank you all for praying, fasting, getting on your knees, and storming the gates of Heaven!!!


Josh had a good night SLEEP overall. He did wake up once, but wasn’t in too much pain at all. I gave him some more meds anyways just to stay ahead of it!


He woke up this morning, and I just have to tell you...he woke up a FIGHTER!! His spirit is stronger than I have seen in SUCH a long time!


He also ate 3 small MEALS today and actually had an APPETITE!! He also drank a green smoothie/drink full of amazing nutrients and he stayed on top of drinking and keeping hydrated!!


He is STRONGER than he was yesterday! His sister came to the door this afternoon and I didn’t hear her; he was already up and opening the front door for her before I knew she was even here!! He wasn’t doing that a couple days ago! He still has a ways to go to gain MORE strength, but this is HUGE!!


I didn’t post this as one of the prayer requests, but we have been praying for his oxygen level and I really wanted to monitor him somehow to make sure that it stays above 90. So, today Kim, Josh’s sister, ran out and got a pulse oximeter to measure his heart rate and oxygen level (this was more for MY peace of mind)! Good news! It’s been staying above 90. In fact, it’s been hanging out around 93-95! Yay God!!


He had quite the day in addition to the answered prayers. Both of his amazing sisters came and treated him to foot rubs, head rubs, back massages and even worked out some stubborn knots in his back!! Wow!! Was he feeling good!! Thank you Kim and Kippi for being here and spending time with him and giving him royal treatment!! Oh and thank you for folding laundry too!!


I can’t tell you what a gift it is to look at my sweet man and see a smile on his face! And anyone that knows Josh knows he loves to laugh and crack jokes. There was even some of that happening today!! Thank you all for praying, for your messages throughout the day either by text or CaringBridge. I read them out loud and they always lifted his spirits, so thank you!!


I have to share one FUN story from today. Our dear friend, Connie, sent a powerful and encouraging text this evening. I was reading it to Josh. She was sharing how she’s been reading through the book of Joshua and how the Joshua in the Bible was a victorious WARRIOR. She shared one of my life verses.


“...Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬


She shared what she was reading and challenged us to read it for ourselves and see what God shows us. She ended her text with, “Your Joshua is a warrior!”


Not long after I read this text message to Josh, Kim returned with the pulse oximeter. I was getting it out and putting the batteries in it when Josh leans over inquisitively and asks, “what kind of batteries are they?” I sort of laughed and said, “AAA!” Why did he care what kind of batteries came with it?! “No, what brand are they?” he asked. I turned it over so I could read the label. “WARRIOR”. They were WARRIOR batteries!! Not Duracell or Energizer...but WARRIOR!! Sometimes God speaks to us BOLDLY and LOUDLY! He reminds us that He sees us!


Our Joshua IS a Warrior and he is ready to fight!! Continue to pray for protection around his mind and spirit as he continues!!


It seems that sometimes our nature is to forget to pray when things are going well. Or to ease up on our prayers! Don’t stop praying. We are still looking to Jesus for healing and direction. As you know, we go in tomorrow morning and he will be assessed by Dr. G’s team. This is standard procedure anytime a patient is either hospitalized or paid a visit to ER. They will recheck his labs, do a possible infusion for fluids if he’s still dehydrated and evaluate treatment.


While we communicated last week that Josh was going to pursue chemo, nothing has been set up yet. We continue to seek guidance and direction in the next steps.


Thank you again for the prayers. We ask for MORE of these good things! God shows up all around us...sometimes even in a pack of batteries!


Will try to post another update tomorrow! Until then, goodnight and God Bless!! 💜

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Dear friends, thank you for covering us in your prayers today. After a long day in ER Josh is home and resting.


At 10:55 this morning, I called 911 to request help to transport Josh to ER. Mainly it was because the paramedics would be able to physically help him better (since he seemed quite weak and off balance) and also because he would be seen right away and get into a room rather than having to hang out in the waiting room all morning/afternoon. Thank you, Patty, for encouraging me to do this because it most certainly expedited his care!


His oxygen level was really low so they hooked him up to some oxygen and that definitely helped. The doctor noted that there could be a couple reasons for this: a possible blood clot and/or pneumonia. He ran some additional tests (chest X-ray and a CT scan). Both came out fine! No blood clot and no pneumonia. Praise God! Because of the cancer and the fluid build-up in his abdomen, he doesn’t have a lot of room. Essentially, it’s squishing his lungs, making it harder for him to breathe.


They also did a series of labs and bloodwork and it was determined that he was very dehydrated. So he got a couple bags of fluids, which also helped him feel better by the end of the day.


All in all, we are thankful that he was able to get assessed and that there wasn’t any new surprises. I have to admit, when the doctor talked about a possible blood clot or pneumonia my heart just sank. “What more, God?” So tonight we are thankful for the clear report of his lungs.


We have a follow up appointment with Dr G. Wednesday morning so we will discuss where Josh is currently at and make any additional determinations as needed.


Will you join me in praying specifically about these things:


1. That Josh would get good sleep and rest tonight


2. That he would get his appetite back and have a desire to eat


3. That he would gain his strength back


4. That we can manage his pain well


5. That Josh would keep up the fight even in the midst of feeling weary—pray for a strong spirit in him!


Well, it’s late so I’m off to bed! Thank you so much for praying! Thank you for your BOLD prayers. God hears. God knows.


Love you all!

Journal entry by Cheryl Shoemaker

Josh has been experiencing some pretty extreme pain, and the last couple of days it has gotten even worse. This morning his pain was pretty bad and he was having a hard time keeping his balance. He also seemed confused. Christine decided to call an ambulance and have him brought in to be checked out.  Please be in prayer for Christine and Josh. Pray for his pain, for Gods wisdom for the doctors and also for Josh and Christine. Pray that they can feel God’s presence! God loves bold prayers, because then we are looking to HIM and we are asking for things that only HE can do. Don’t be afraid to be bold in your prayer!!
Thank you! 

Journal entry by Rachel Feldmann

Josh & Christine's home church, Plymouth Covenant Church (PCC), is covering this precious family in prayer along with so many of you, and thanking, praising and trusting God for His healing hand and glory to be revealed in Josh's healing, in Jesus' name! 

PCC has also created a "Richardson" fund for the remainder of this calendar year to help in the financial support of this dear family. In giving this way your donation would be anonymous. Regular PCC attenders receive an income tax receipt for donation at year end on their statement. For non-regular attenders your cancelled check/payment process acts as a receipt, unless your donation is $250 or more.

100% of donation goes to the Richardson family!

Simply write "Josh Richardson" in the memo of your check and bring or mail to:

Plymouth Covenant Church
4300 Vicksburg Lane N.
Plymouth, MN  55446

For your convenience, you may also give online on PCC's giving page found here:


https://plymouthcovenant.churchcenter.com/giving


Simply scroll down from the "General Fund" to instead select "Richardson Family Support".


You may then also choose to cover the small online fee so 100% of your donation still goes to the Richardson family.

This link is also posted on their CaringBridge page under the "Ways to Help", then "Support Link" section.



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Journal entry by Christine Richardson

This is long overdue and I know that so many of you have just been anxious for some kind of update. I have to admit that partly it's been hard to sit down and write because the news and the information that I am about to share is hard. It isn't exactly what we had hoped to report back with, but it's where we're at. 

As you know from the last post, we have been struggling with gaining any momentum with fighting off this cancer and the tumors have continued to grow. Then, for two weeks straight we saw those cancer markers stabilize and one week where they even went down (that was a good thing).  We were encouraged and felt a peace to continue the regiment and protocols we were on. Unfortunately, he continued to battle with low sodium, dehydration, increased pain and discomfort in addition to lack of appetite and overall weakness and fatigue. Last week he experienced an all time low. We've felt discouraged, frustrated and sad (and yes, a little angry). But we also know that we cannot sit in that and dwell on those thoughts and feelings. We need to continue fighting!

This past Monday night we had routine lab work and an appointment with Dr. G, Josh's oncologist. The cancer markers and liver function numbers were worse than they have been so far. We were already preparing ourselves for the next step and a new direction, but this was heartbreaking to see that things had progressed once again so quickly, especially after a couple "good" weeks.

During our meeting with Dr. G we discussed options and he still recommended the chemo treatment plan he originally had fro Josh. We also discussed options to help manage his pain. Josh has been taking Cannabis and it seemed to help initially, but unfortunately, it just wasn't enough. So, we asked if Dr. G could write a prescription for his pain. He's been taking a pain med in addition to the Cannabis for the last couple nights/days and it seems to help. He was definitely able to sleep better the first night. 

Next steps, new direction...

After returning home and spending some time talking and praying together, Josh has decided that he will pursue the chemo treatment. We will continue to trust God in this new direction. Please know that this was a difficult decision for several reasons. Because of the "type" of cancer Josh has (which is kind of ironic because no one has been able to tell us what "type" it is), the doctors have told us from the beginning that it is non-curative, meaning that he will never be "cured" of the cancer. They will start him on chemo, but eventually it will not work and they will need to switch up the drugs/treatment. They anticipate that this will be the cycle until they run out of options (chemo drugs) and will no longer be able to treat it, giving him about 5 to 7 years at best. This also means that he will be on chemo inevitably. These, among many other reasons, were why we pursued a natural and holistic approach. We felt like we were given a death sentence if we were to go the conventional route, without any hope of ever being off of drugs or living a full life. When we felt led and compelled to seek a holistic approach, Josh felt a sense of HOPE. 

We don't understand, but we will move forward with confidence knowing that whatever approach we we take, we know that God goes before us. He's been with us the last couple months and He will continue in these next steps. We know that God is good. Yes, we are frustrated and sad, but we are not angry with God. We will continue to fight! We will continue to pray for healing! We will continue to live one day at a time, knowing that God has a mighty plan for Josh and our family. 

We have seen our family grow closer during this difficult time. For the past week, with the suggestion of a dear sweet friend, we have been having family communion together. I would have never thought of this. I think of communion as something we do once a month at church and administered by leaders in our church. Could we really do it in our own home? And why...what would the purpose be?

But I have to tell you, this has been such an incredibly sweet and intimate time for us as a family. We gather together every night. A cracker. A cup of juice. We take turns giving it to each other and it's so simple yet profound. We have loved watching Emma and Kaden give communion to each other. Remembering Christ's body broken for us...His blood shed for us. It has taken a deeper meaning for us. Remembering Christ's body broken for Josh and His blood shed for Josh. By His stripes/wounds Josh is healed. We claim it every night!! And we will not stop!

Yes, we are doing Chemo. Doctors say it's not curative, but we will continue to pray for our miracle! 

I will post again when we get more details. Right now we are just waiting for the orders and appointments to be made for the next steps.  We are so grateful to all of you who continue to pray, love and support our family. It brings us to tears and we are so humbled by your willingness to support and love us during this difficult time.

I'd love to ask for a couple things. PLEASE...I shared a lot in this post, particularly relating to Josh's prognosis. This is information we have known from the beginning, but we have NOT shared with the kids. Yes, they know he has cancer. They know he's sick and can see him in pain. They know that we are praying for a miracle and we ask for healing every day. They ask for it too! But they don't know that doctors have given him a timeline. Please be respectful when talking to our kids. Please don't make it scary or sad. We would like to be the ones to have those conversations with them. I'm not asking you to ignore it. Feel free to check in with them about how they're doing. But please also remember that they are living this everyday. Sometimes, just asking how the summer is going and what fun things they're doing is a better conversation!

Also, I know that some of you are signed up for bringing veggies for juicing, but Josh is not continuing that right now. He's had a hard time just eating in general, so for those of you signed up for that, we will not need it until further notice! Thank you for being willing and for those of you who had the opportunity to contribute in that way!

We love you all and are so thankful!

One last shout out again to the GVFD for your help last Saturday. I had hoped to take pictures, but was a little busy with all the activity! Our yard looked amazing after you left! Thanks for cutting down branches, bundling branches and getting rid of them, weeding, mowing, attempting to set up a shed, etc.  And seriously to the Boe ladies, I could just hug you for getting down on your hands and knees taking out dandelions!! You girls ROCK!! We love you guys so much! Thanks Jim and Ruth for coming out and fixing our screen doors. We love you guys! And to EVERYONE...I wish I could name every single one of you for your help and support! Know that we are grateful!

I'll close with this devotional entry from Monday.

"Let us go over to the other side." (Mark 4:35)

"Even though we follow Christ's command, we should not expect to escape the storm.  In this passage of Scripture, the disciples were obeying His command, yet they encountered the fiercest of storms and were in great danger of being drowned. In their distress, they cried out for Christ's assistance...
 

Gently rebuking His disciples, Christ asked, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" (v.40).  In effect, He was saying, "Why didn't you face the storm victoriously and shout to the raging winds and rolling waves, 'You cannot harm us, for Christ, the mighty Savior, is on board'?"

Of course, it is much easier to trust God when the sun is shining than to trust Him when the storm is raging around us.  Yet we will never know our level of genuine faith until it is tested in a fierce storm, and that is why our Savior is on board.  If you are ever to "be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power" (Eph. 6:10), your strength will be born during a storm."

Check out these songs that have become our anthem and hearts cry...

https://youtu.be/awkO61T6i0k?list=RDMMawkO61T6i0k

https://youtu.be/0B_lnQIITxU?list=RDMMawkO61T6i0k



Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Have you ever been skydiving? It was on my bucket list and I made the attempt to check it off several years ago. My BFF and I decided to do it together. We made our reservations, drove out to Baldwin, WI, went through the training and signed the waivers (in other words signed our life away!) But the weather didn’t cooperate and we weren’t able to jump that day. We rescheduled and came back another day. Wouldn’t you know it, the weather conditions were not good THAT day, either. We never did make it back out there, so I can only imagine the feeling of skydiving. I once thought that you would feel that free-fall sensation like you do on a roller coaster. But I learned during our training that actually you don’t.




One person explains it like this: “It takes your breath away, it brings you a new perspective on the world, it shows you beauty that you didn't know existed.”




When I think about this battle that we are living each day it reminds me a little bit about skydiving. It’s definitely taken our breath away. As hard and awful as it is to accept that this is our fight right now, it has brought a new perspective on the world. And the beauty! The beauty that surrounds us each day is all of YOU!




Yesterday we were blessed by having a crew of firefighters from GVFD come out and do some yard work that we haven’t been able to get to. These five beautiful souls showed up ready to do whatever was needed. We just asked for mowing, clean up, and trimming of some bushes. They went above and beyond! They cleaned off our patio, mowed, pulled weeds, trimmed bushes AND fixed our hack job trimming we attempted ourselves last year on one of our trees, they even trimmed some trees. And when all that was done they asked if they could set up the trampoline for the kids! Above and beyond! Beauty! So to Jon, Jason, Brian, Tariq and Jen...THANK YOU!!! And thank you to Brian and AJ (also GVFD firefighters) a couple weeks ago for coming out and cleaning our gutters!! We are family!!




Beauty.




It’s those of you who have given your time and energy to drop off veggies and meals. It’s the financial donations that continue to roll in. It’s the friends and family who drop everything they’re doing to come and get the kids/watch the kids with little to no notice because we have appointments and crazy scheduling. It’s the one who says yes to cleaning and preparing vegetables so I can go on a walk with my husband. It’s those who are praying around the clock. It’s the one who drops by to check in and pray for Josh. It’s the one who sends a text message at JUST the right time because Josh and I are so weary and don’t know how to proceed and that message picks us up off the floor and helps us regain consciousness again. It’s the text message that asks, “how can I pray for you today?”




Beauty.




I could go on. But this is beauty. Everyday in the midst of this vicious battle, there is beauty. And some days it takes our breath away.




I so wish that I could name every single one of you. I hope that you know how grateful we are for you!




I wanted to start with the positive because our hearts are just literally exploding with gratefulness! But today I need to tell you that it’s been a challenging week. Josh has fought against dehydration, low sodium levels, less than favorable lab results and increased pain. In addition to fighting these less than favorable lab results, test scores with his ND have not been positive either. So the continued and consistent decline has left us wondering about how to proceed. Having learned last week that the cancer has grown and Josh’s pain level up we’ve been wondering if we need to do something different. We don’t have answers right now. We are just seeking and wondering. Going forward, he will be doing lab work weekly to monitor numbers and will have infusions as needed.




Last week, following an appointment down at the U of M, and at the height of Josh’s pain, we found out that Josh was approved to receive Medical Cannabis. Before leaving downtown we called to schedule an appointment with one of the laboratory’s and the first place I called just had a cancellation for that same day! So we went in that afternoon and left with three different prescriptions. He’s still trying to figure out the dosages. While this is helpful for the immediate pain, we also understand and know that it’s not making the cancer go away. The cancer is still there and since we are seeing numbers either drop or increase in the wrong direction we are seeking direction and wondering what that looks like. Josh is feeling weak and tired. Join us in praying for guidance. And don’t stop praying for the healing.

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

Good morning friends.








I just posted an entry that was supposed to go up earlier this week, but as life would have it, our time was hijacked by this unwelcome visitor called CANCER.








So to catch you up to speed, Wednesday Josh was more uncomfortable than normal and didn’t sleep at all Wednesday night.








It all started Wednesday late morning. Josh had gone to our dear friends where he’s been doing some additional treatment therapy. He drove himself because he was feeling more up to it and able. About a half hour later he called and was laying down on the couch of our friends...hurting and in pain. I ended up going over and picking him up and bringing him home.








Long story short, by Thursday morning following a night of not sleeping, I called Dr. G’s office to get him in for an appointment. They got us in right away and had some blood drawn and scheduled CT scan later in the afternoon.








The initial test results revealed that his liver function was really high, his sodium level was low again and his white blood count up. The liver function numbers were the greatest concern, but we wouldn’t know or be able to confirm anything until after the CT scan.








Around 1:30 he was taken back for the scan and about an hour later we were able to get the results. The scan revealed additional cancer growth on the liver. It hasn’t spread to other parts of the body, but the fact that it grew within the liver was disheartening.








We continue to pray and seek guidance with this new information and feel the Lord will lead us accordingly.








We appreciate your prayers as we press into Him and as we seek to follow the leading of our hearts.








Blessings.

Journal entry by Christine Richardson

It's been two weeks since Josh's initial diagnosis and needless to say it has been a whirlwind. Most of last week is a huge blur, but I will try to provide as many details as I can.  First of all, we just want to thank you all so much for your incredible support! We are so grateful to all of our family and friends for the prayers, calls, text messages, help with kids, food, and other support you've given in so many ways.  Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!

On Thursday, March 22 Josh had a biopsy on his liver; this was supposed to give us more details about the cancer and where it started, how aggressive, etc..  We knew that we would not receive results of the test until the following week and so we also knew the waiting was going to be difficult. We decided to just spend the weekend laying low, but at the last minute we decided we wanted to bring this new challenge we were facing before the Lord and pray over Josh, our home, family and future. So, Sunday afternoon we held a worship and prayer service. We were so blessed to have family and dear friends gather around us! It truly was beautiful! We worshipped, prayed, cried, and our hearts were so encouraged. We felt ready for our meeting with the oncologist the next day.

Thankfully we had prepared out hearts, because our meeting with the oncologist did not go the way that we had hoped. He informed us that he didn't have all of the results from the biopsy, but gave Josh a general diagnosis of Colon/Lower GI Cancer (or Stage 4 Poorly Differentiated Adenocarcinoma). The next heartbreaking news that we received that morning was that his cancer was non-curative. His recommendation for treatment was Chemotherapy. Surgery really wasn't an option since the cancer had already matastesized; he felt that chemo was necessary as soon as possible. We left with instructions to schedule a PET scan immediately and to have the port placed. Numb.  We felt numb.

We knew that we wanted to get a second opinion, and with some help through a family friend, we were able to get in for a second opinion with a doctor at the University of Minnesota. Our second oncology meeting would be Thursday.  More waiting.  

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent doing a lot of praying, researching alternative cancer care and sincerely calling out to God about what our next steps should be.  As some of you might know, I have a passion for health and wellness. I have come to believe that our bodies are capable of healing itself of many diseases, even cancer. In December, as a Christmas gift, I got the book, Chris Beat Cancer. It's about a remarkable young man who was diagnosed with stage 3c Colon Cancer. He opted out of chemotherapy against his doctors recommendation, but is healthy and thriving today. I literally devoured this book. It was so exciting and interesting. I had no idea that three months later, I would be using some of the information from his book and other resources for our own family.

The Lord laid it on our hearts during the week to reach out to a few different people we know as we started to seek alternative ideas for treatment. We are feeling a nudge that we are supposed to go in this direction, trusting that God will bring healing over Josh. One of the things that is essential when fighting cancer is to give the body good nutrients. So, while we were in this waiting period this week, we started doing things we had some control over. With the help of dear friends, we were able to get our hands on a juicer and we have been juicing and putting good anti-cancer food into Josh's body. We are doing all kinds of other things that will help support the body, fight the cancer cells and slow them down.

THURSDAY came and we met with our second oncologist. While he was MUCH better in terms of his bedside manners, we both came away from the meeting feeling sad and broken. This time, he was much more thorough and went over the CT scan with us, explaining in more detail what he was seeing. Unfortunately, he was seeing some questionable spots on the esophagus and possibly the stomach. He really wanted to know where the cancer started from in order to set up a proper treatment/protocol. He also agreed with our first oncologist that Chemotherapy was the only solution and considered his cancer to be non-curative. Before deciding anything at this point, he wanted to see what showed up on the PET scan which was scheduled for the next day. 

FRIDAY morning, bright and early, Josh went in for the PET scan and by the afternoon the doctor was calling with a report. He had good news! The areas on the esophagus and the stomach he was "concerned" about from the CT scan were not cancer! Yes! Something good! A big blessing! We were so thankful! But, there were some spots that he wanted to look at near the colon and rectal area. Now Josh was looking at getting a colonoscopy. That was scheduled for Monday, April 1.

Today, MONDAY, Josh had his colonoscopy. We have MUCH to be thankful for and we are praising the Lord for this great report!! When the procedure was over and Josh was in the recovery room, I was there with him. The doctor came in to speak to us and said that everything went well. In fact, he said he didn't find a thing! He went on to say that he didn't quite understand and that it doesn't make any sense. He was going off the PET scan and the doctors notes, but said there wasn't ANY trace of CANCER in the colon!! Praise the Lord. We still don't know where this cancer is coming from or where it started...but we will take these amazing miracles as they come! So we are thankful tonight for this report and good news. There is NO cancer in the Colon. There is NO cancer in the rectum. We are thankful for this blessing tonight. 

Please continue to pray for us as we navigate and as we determine next steps. We know that this isn't the approach that most people follow. But we feel that God has been preparing us for this for some time. We will be faithful and trust Him. In the meantime, Josh is tired and is resting his body as much as he can. Thankfully, he is not in pain, but please continue to hold him up in your prayers as we seek the right thing and as we build a health team around him. And we will continue to praise Him in this storm!

Thanks for all the prayers!

Josh and Christine

"So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
                                             -Isaiah 41:10
Josh’s Story

Site created on March 26, 2019

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Over the last couple months Josh has been experiencing a nagging pain/discomfort in his back right side/kidney area.  Due to the large amounts of driving and sitting in a work truck for his new job, we thought that it was something muscular-related.  Last Monday evening (March 18, 2019), however, he felt nauseous after dinner. This, paired with some other on and off symptoms, forced us to get it checked out.  We were all down in Marshall at the time, so Tuesday morning we packed up and headed back to the cities. We checked in at West Health Urgent Care that afternoon and after discussing symptoms with the doctor, he also thought it to be more muscular-related.  He didn’t think that it was necessary to run any images or x-rays, but ordered some standard blood tests and ran a urine sample. Not long after, he returned and said that he decided to run a couple other blood tests. They were not related to the symptoms he was having, but he  just felt that he needed to run them.  After running these additional tests he returned again and said that the tests came back abnormal and he would like to do a CT Scan after all. About an hour later, the doctor came back into the room.  With deep compassion and care in his eyes, he looked at Josh and I and said, “I’m sorry, it’s not good. They found some spots and they were cancer.” The kids were still in the room so he said it quietly and asked if we wanted a nurse to take the kids on a walk while we went over the results of the test. CANCER. Never in our minds did we think it would be cancer.  A kidney infection? Maybe. A kidney stone? Most likely. But cancer? In a moment’s time our lives had completely turned upside down. We went over the results of the CT Scan and he said that there was a mass on his appendix and several “good sized” lesions on his liver and lower abdominal area and that they were cancerous. He suggested that Josh be admitted to Abbott Northwestern Hospital that evening where they would run some additional tests including a biopsy of the liver. Nothing prepares you for this kind of news.  Nothing prepares you for this diagnosis. Nothing prepares you for making the kind of decisions we were going to be making over the next several days. We made arrangements for the kids to be with family for the week and Josh and I drove to Abbott.






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