Snow, snow, and more snow…

I will give thanks to The Lord with my whole heart…
Psalm 111:1

Snow in Glens Falls

February Snow in Glens Falls

Snow, snow and more snow… Here in Glens Falls we have had multiple feet of snow on the ground for weeks and Boston has had record amounts of snow this year. But we have been blessed with fine clear days to drive there and back… for which we are very thankful, last week’s trip turned out to be just overnight as we could only get one night’s accommodation at the Hope Lodge, so we left soon after Noel’s appointments on Wednesday to drive home – just ahead of more snow!

During the 2 weeks since his last visit to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute Noel had blood work done at the CR Wood Cancer Center in Glens Falls and it seemed that things were beginning to move in the right direction, so we were very pleased that the tests at the DFCI showed the same movement with slightly better readings for Noel’s platelet levels and liver functions… this coupled with the fact that Noel’s mouth is much less sore and he says he now feels about 70% well… it was decided to begin to reduce the high dose of steroids he was prescribed! Coming back off them is a lengthy process. This is good as the side effects of the steroids are not much fun, one of which we need to keep an eye on is the rise in ‘sugar’ levels… So he will have blood tests again next week at the CR Wood Cancer Center here in Glens Falls.

We praise the Lord that we are coming out of this dark valley and moving forward again. Noel is still on what he calls ‘light duties’ (British Army term) and trying to pace himself and not to rush back too quickly into doing too much. We have now learned that he must be careful not only not to catch infections but also not to over tax himself as this puts a strain on his, as yet still immature, immune system which then seems to result in the GVHD flare ups. They arrive quickly, with little warning, and then take ages to recover from.

But even on ‘light duties’ life seems pretty busy with no time to be bored.

We are grateful for all your prayers and support in so many ways – your snail mail and welcome calls and messages. We are sorry if we are not always quick to reply and hope you will bear with us. We are also grateful for the recent anonymous donation in Noel’s honor to CaringBridge. Although we do not receive the donations made to CaringBridge ourselves, they do go towards providing this great asset for us and others free of charge which enables us to keep in touch with you all though that service.

We were given the option of Noel’s next appointment being in 2 or 3 weeks, so we decided to take the 3 week break and his next appointment is on March 11th. We are once again on the wait list for a room at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. Please pray for a room to become available there. Hope Lodge is a wonderful blessing and being able to stay there on so many of our visits to Boston has saved us hundreds of dollars in hotel costs. We are so grateful to the American Cancer Society and those who support it for enabling us and others to stay there at no cost. Of course we try make donations ourselves from time to time, and occasional donations from others are always welcomed by the management of the place, which costs a huge amount to run each year.

Meryl, Charlotte and Noel at ACS Relay for Life

Meryl, Charlotte and Noel at ACS Relay for Life

It won’t be long now before we will again be turning our own thoughts and efforts towards our own fund raising for the American Cancer Society through our participation in the Relay for Life. For us this has become an annual family event as we celebrate Charlotte continuing to be a cancer survivor, as well as Noel and myself. We would not have chosen these three journeys but they are 3 journeys during which we have received many, many blessings, especially drawing closer together as a family and having our faith in a Mighty God strengthened.

God bless you all.

Meryl and Noel


After note from Noel: We have not been engaged in much ministry these past two weeks. The Lay Chaplains Academy went very well and was enjoyed by those who were able to attend. Sadly as you know we were not able to be there. In conversation with Bishop Dan at the Spiritual Life Center, we have decided to postpone the female combat Veterans healing retreat until later in the year (we had not yet widely advertised it and there were no registrations, coupled with my own health and that of one of the staff at the SLC). The main ministry event recently was the annual Board meeting of By His Wounds ministry (Rev. Nigel Mumford’s healing ministry), which I was able to attend via Webex. I have been able to do a bit of follow up over Facebook with a former Croatian soldier who I met at Global Interaction last December. He wants to translate some of the Welcome Home Initiative materials to help the soul wounds suffered by Bosnian War Veterans.

Early February 2015 Updates

My help comes from The Lord , who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

O God our help in ages past. Our hope for years to come . Watts.

Snow in Glens Falls

February Snow in Glens Falls

The last two weeks seem to have flown by. Lots of snow, some sunshine but extremely low temperatures, Glens Falls was reported one night last week to be the coldest location in the whole country. With minus 32’F, now that is cold!

I am pleased to say I am fully recovered from the bronchitis although very tired and Noel has slowly been feeling much better, the medications kicking in and reducing the horrible GVHD symptoms. The rash is gone and the sores in his mouth are getting much better. He began to go from only liquids and blended soups to soft foods and a more normal range of tastes. Today he has eaten a sandwich for the first time in weeks. Talking for him has become easier although his voice is still not quite his normal one yet.

Davies Street Snow in February

Davies Street Snow in February

This week we drove to Boston as normal on Tuesday, thankfully a dry, cold and clear day… the countryside looking beautiful with all the fresh snow. Boston had so much snow travel in the city was extremely congested. Huge snow banks and buried cars along the roads. We had been unable to get a room at the American Cancer Society’s facility, the Hope Lodge, but were able to get a room at reduced rates for hospital patients at the Inn at Longwood, almost next door to the Dana-Farber. For which we were very thankful.

Noel’s appointments on Wednesday were early in the morning so we planned on leaving around lunch time to drive back to Glens Falls ahead of the predicted bad weather coming from the North West.

Noel, we thought, had an ear infection, with a bit of associated dizziness, and this was confirmed by Dr Soiffer. We were disappointed in the fact that Noel’s liver function tests were slightly worse again… So Dr S has ordered blood work to be done at Glens Falls CR Wood Cancer Center next Wednesday as he wants to keep a good check on this. He was also surprised to see that Noel’s platelet count had suddenly dropped. They have never returned to what is considered normal at 150.000 but have been holding steady at around 120,000 to 130,000 +/-, so yesterday’s reading of 57,000 gives cause for concern so along with the blood test for his liver they will also check his platelets again next week. If they should fall below 50,000, I expect he will be given a transfusion. But in the mean time he must take care not to do anything that could cause bleeding.. We will then return to see Dr S in 2 weeks time on Wednesday the 17th February.

Dr Soiffer is a little puzzled as to what these changes mean but he does know there is no sign of rejection of the transplant by Noel’s body as tests show Noel’s bone marrow is 100% that of his donor. So he is pretty sure it all has something to do with the GVHD – Graft verses Host Disease.

The antibiotic that Noel was give yesterday, did not suit him at all… After just one dose, after a few hours he was very, very sick. Vomiting and feeling extremely dizzy.. So today I called the Dana-Farber and he has now been prescribed a different antibiotic for the ear infection. One he has taken before so we hope he will not react to this one.

Playing games with the grandchildren

Playing games with the grandchildren

Apart from the health issues we are enjoying being home, seeing the grandchildren, getting back to our church and reconnecting with folk.

Noel is not able to really get back into his ministry as yet. So until the health issues are resolved everything is on hold… Which is frustrating for him. He estimates he is operating at, perhaps, 80% of normal, at the most. Each day is a bit of a struggle – but improving! For both of us!

This week, Noel has been constantly thinking and praying for the Lay Chaplains Academy, mentioned in detail in our last update. It has been tough for him to be there in his heart but not physically.

Thank you for all your loving support, prayers, phone calls and correspondence… they mean a lot to us. Please keep praising God for all his blessings and praying for speedy a recovery for Noel. Safe travel to and from Boston and the funds to cover the increase in medical expenses at the moment.

For those of you, who like us have lots of snow and more to come. Keep warm. For those of you in sunny places. We wish we were there! Our prayers are with you all. God Bless you!

Meryl and Noel.