Boston, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2012

Written on December 24th/25th 2012, Hope Lodge Boston.
Transplant Day plus 198 and 199

‘Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared praising God and saying ” Glory to God in the highest and on earth to men on whom his favor rests” Luke 2 :13,14 NIV.

‘For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ Isaiah 9: 6 NIV.

John 3:16 -“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)

We celebrated Christmas at our home yesterday, Sunday, with Toby, JoAnn, Charlotte and Lucy… Enjoying seeing the girls thrilled with the gifts they unwrapped… and enjoyed a meal of roast pork followed by Christmas pudding and mince pies… while wearing the paper hats from our Christmas Crackers and laughing at the silly jokes we found inside. But I will spare you from those!!! And we all had a great time interacting with Charles, Sarah, Evelyn and William in the UK via Skype. Not quite like all being physically together but fun.

Today, Christmas Eve we drove here to Boston in glorious sunshine… cold and brisk but so beautiful through the Berkshires and what a blessing, only a few heavy vehicles and much lighter traffic than normal on the Interstate… and we were able to get good reception on the Public Radio station so listened to the traditional Christmas service of nine lessons and carols from the King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England. It was very uplifting.

We arrived in good time for Noel’s appointment with Dr. Soiffer at the Dana Faber today… Very few patients being seen today so we had a short waiting time… Still not any great changes in Noel’s levels… Dr. Soiffer says he is not worried with a big W or even worried with a small w but is keeping a close eye on him. Today Noel’s platelets were down very slightly, his Red cells were very very slightly up but his White cells had dropped quite a lot… which is not good for fighting infection at this difficult time of the year when there are so many people fighting different seasonal illnesses. So he will need to be extra careful.

Today’s results (and 12 days ago)
White blood cells: 1.9 — Last time: 3.1 — Normal: 3.8 – 9.2
Red blood cells: 2.65 — Last time: 2.58 — Normal: 4.2 – 5.6
Platelets: 55 — Last time: 58 — Normal: 155 – 410

So all his restrictions stay in place. Noel is still fighting the mild GVHD and the sores and thrush in his mouth. Glucose level is too high so a watch is being kept on that too. Noel’s next appointment is on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013.

Our Christmas Day tomorrow will be quiet as there are few guests here most people having been able to go home for a couple of days break. We do have a friend and his wife coming to visit us around 9am in the morning and although not yet confirmed with the duty manager they hope to play Christmas Carols on the piano and violin for every one to enjoy. Then there is a Brunch at 10:30am kindly put on by local volunteers. Of course Noel cannot eat the food from the buffet but I brought breakfast stuff with us and have a tasty but simple meal planned for tomorrow evening. We will drive home on Boxing Day, 26th… Snow is forecast over the next couple of days but hopefully in this area only about an inch, just enough to make everywhere look picture perfect but not enough to delay our travel plans.

So this year will soon be coming to an end and a new one beginning… We pray for you all to be blessed with the peace of the Lord and to stay safe and healthy. God Bless you!

We were blessed by receiving so many cards and good wishes this Christmas time… Thank you all for your continued prayers and for standing with us though difficult times… We hope you will continue to pray for us in 2013 and continue to follow Noel’s progress on the road to a full recovery.

Prayer requests:

  • For Noel’s blood levels to return to and stay within the normal range.
  • For The Lord to continue to bless us with the resources we need to pay all the medical bills this coming year.
  • For safe travel during winter weather.
  • For both of us to have renewed energy.
  • For our families on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thank you, please do stay in touch, we love hearing from you… Happy New Year!

Christmas Day update:
We have enjoyed our day… Our friends Greg and Diane and their son Matt arrived as planned and permission was given to announce the Carol singing. Sadly the piano was out of key but Greg played his violin. Four other guests came and were all thrilled to hear Noel read the Christmas story and joined in the carol singing. We finished with the prayer of St. Francis and all felt up lifted.

Brunch was a FIVE STAR event… hosted by Hope Lodge Board members… they supplied and cooked a variety of omelets, bacon and pancakes… fresh fruit salad and whole fruits a huge array of pastries and muffins and breakfast cereals… and lots of coffee and juice. As some of it was cooked freshly to order Noel was able to enjoy it. Greg, Diane and Matt were also able to join us for the brunch before driving on to see relatives locally and then drive home to Maine.

We were also blessed by a gift of a hand knitted scarf each… made mostly by one lady who said she wanted to keep us warm in the chilly Boston weather. So a great Christmas Morning. We have much to give praise and thanks for.

Day +186 post transplant – 12/12/12!

Hope Lodge, Boston

Trust The Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember The Lord in all you do, and he will give you success. Proverbs. 3:5-6 .

But as for me, I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. Psalm 71:14

Some words that come to mind this week are blessings, frustrated, discouraged, confident, steadfast and thanksgiving and praise… Why these words, you ask?

Yesterday was 6 months since the day Noel had what they like to call his re birthday… June 11th… The day he received the huge blessing of his bone marrow transplant. A little frustrated at times is how Noel has felt as 6 moths ago he predicted he would be well by now and back to living a normal life even though he was being told it would take 12 months. He thought a strong infantry guy like him would crack it in 6 months! Wrong! But he is confident he will have done so by the 12 month point… the Doctors are too… and say although progress seems slow, it is progress and he is now in remission… they will continue to call the phase he is in remission until the 5 year point because as with all cancers there is always a slight chance it will return but after 5 years it is far less likely it will. So we stand firm in our belief the cancer has gone – every scientific indication confirms that it has – and give thanks and praise to the Lord… We are not discouraged!

Last week Noel did not have an appointment at the DFCI but did have an appointment with ‘Dr G-G’, his hematologist at the C R Wood Cancer Center at Glens Falls Hospital. She was pleased with his progress and was able to prescribe some antibiotics as Noel had a slight cold. Good to nip it in the bud before it got a hold of him and make him really ill, having little or no immune system yet. Other wise he has felt well, still has the sore mouth and throat but less than it was; and he often hits a brick wall of fatigue.

* In himself, Noel is ready to be back in action with his ministry and has been able to have some meaningful one-to-one telephone conversations and social media ministry interaction during the past 2 weeks. He has also been able to take part in two ministry prayer meetings by telephone plus a phone conference Board meeting of Olive Branch International, a follow up video-conference Board meeting and, last but not least, a long and encouraging phone call with the Executive Director of ACCTS, his “Boss”. In all of these calls, new ministry proposals for the future were talked about and received enthusiastically by others.

* Most of these proposals concern national and international plans to minister to Chaplains and war traumatized Veterans. Some proposals concern how to promote forgiveness and reconciliation between former military enemies. Realistically, we pray these plans will start to come to fruition in 2014, being energized by Global Interaction, a world wide military Christian training event being held in South Africa, which Noel and Meryl hope to go to. However, some of the proposals can start to be implemented before then. So, please pray that the Lord will abundantly supply the resources needed to implement the proposals, as well as the skilled people to action them. And this in addition to steep ongoing medical costs to treat Noel’s recovery. Anyone desiring to support the un-salaried, charitable military ministry should first ask Noel for advice on how best to do this. Funds to help cover the medical side should be sent direct to Noel and Meryl as previously explained.

These last 2 * paragraphs were actually written by Noel , maybe you thought that!

Back to the medical stuff! Written again by me…

Today’s Noel’s blood work at the DFCI was encouraging but still remains lower than normal.

Red Blood cells, 2.58 — Two weeks ago, 2.5 — Normal. 4.2-5.6
White Blood cells, 3.1 — Two weeks ago, 2.52 — Normal. 3.8-9.2
Platelets, 58 — Two weeks ago, 48 — Normal. 155-410

Amy, the NP, lowered the steroid dose again this week… A good sign that the GVH disease is under control, even if it seems to be lasting forever! She kept all his other drugs the same. Next appointment December 24th.

So we are praising The Lord that even though there have been difficult days during the last six months, He has been our strength and we have weathered the storm… but sometimes things do happen to discourage us along the way… Some of you may remember 5 years ago, I, Meryl, had what I called my ‘brief encounter’ with cancer… early diagnosis and treatment and the cancer was gone… But it seems my body was very sensitive (3-5 % of people are, apparently, very sensitive to radiation treatment) and the invasive and intense radiation to my pelvic area caused server damage to my colon. Six months after the treatment I had to have a piece removed during a colon resection… now 5 years later radiation damage has shown up in my bladder. This is giving me some side effects and discomfort. So at this moment I do feel somewhat discouraged… And seek your prayers for healing and acceptance of what the ‘new normal’ all this brings with it, so that I can say I am not discouraged but encouraged once more… And I will once again soar like an eagle as the Lord, in whom I trust, restores me.

The good news and answer to prayer is that there is room in the inn! We have a confirmed place to stay at Hope Lodge on the nights of the 24th and 25th of December… So we will drive down here to Boson early morning on Christmas Eve, have Noel’s appointments at the DFCI in the afternoon and then spend Christmas Day at Hope Lodge and drive home on the 26th, the day we call Boxing Day… so although a white Christmas would be pretty we hope for fine dry weather as we travel.

Charlotte and Lucy with Santa

Charlotte and Lucy with Santa

We will celebrate the reason for the season with a family dinner at our house on Sunday the 23rd and enjoy seeing Charlotte and Lucy open some gifts they will find under our Christmas Tree. Normally on the 20th of December we all go out together as a family for a meal, a family tradition since our own boys were young but this year as Noel can not eat in restaurants we will also celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary on that same Sunday, quite appropriate as the 20th December 1970, the day we were married was a Sunday.

It’s a busy time of the year for children. Charlotte and Lucy have been enjoying a number of Christmas parties. In England, our granddaughter Eve has the part of Mary in the school Nativity play… watch for photos very soon.

Our prayer for you all is that your Christmas will be blessed with good health, safe travel and happy reunions with family and friends… as you celebrate the best gift anyone of us will ever receive… God’s gift of Eternal Life through Jesus our Lord…

Please pray for us and our family as the Lord leads you, we thank you for your faithfulness to us during the past months… and thank the Lord he has heard and answered your prayers. God Bless you!

Web site URLs: