December 2017 Update: Ministry, Health and Family


Busy year of ministry for both of us
This year has been yet another busy year as far as ministry as an ACCTS staff member is concerned. Although this brief update focuses on Noel, we are a “husband and wife” pair as staff members. Meryl has been involved throughout the year coordinating very beautiful and sacred quilts from Quilts of Valor which we present to combat Veterans the first time they come to the Welcome Home Initiative© (WHI©). Her ministry includes praying over each quilt (which are publicly blessed at a prayer and worship service shortly before each retreat begins), praying for each Veteran coming to the retreat.

At the female combat Veterans retreat in April, we heard and prayed much about issues of sexual trauma, oppression and lack of equality and from the reactions of each one of these precious women, there was considerable healing. It seems that as someone receives the Peace of the LORD that the presence of Jesus in our lives brings contentment, patience, calmness, strength, hope, encouragement and much more in our lives. Those who receive it are hugely helped.

Veterans Healed at Retreat
We organized and led a second retreat in November, which was also extremely successful, according to the parting comment of those who attended. Twenty male Veterans, six spouses and two other ladies with extensive military backgrounds came to the SLC from November 13-15. Our team included former Army and Navy Chaplains. During the retreat we were blessed to honor one of our most stalwart team members who died during the summer, instituting the “Ken Bliss Welcome Home Initiative Scholarship Fund” through which donors can “pay it forward” enabling Veterans to come to the next retreat.

Chaplain Ministry with ACCTS and ACNA
As most of you know, I was commissioned as a Lay Chaplain four years ago and am endorsed by the Bishop of the Armed Forces of the Anglican Church in North America. This appointment is totally integrated with my ACCTS staff role, giving the Chaplains & Veterans ministry added credibility. In addition to helping to plan, organize and run a training academy in the summer for three new Lay Chaplains, I am also responsible for some of the pastoral care of the 12 chaplains currently commissioned at the moment. Most of these chaplains are involved in ministering to Veterans, several of them in full time employment. We are organized into an open spiritual order called the Order of St. Martin of Tours, of which I was appointed Prior in 2014.

In Between Retreats
In between WHI retreats I spend my time helping Meryl with the ‘after school’ care and their activities at the YMCA. (sometimes all day care) of our two beautiful granddaughters Charlotte (10) and Lucy (7) because Toby and JoAnn both have full-time jobs; organizing the next retreat including advertising and fund-raising (at least $10K per retreat); and maintaining contact with military Chaplains and Veterans in a variety of ways especially one-to-one social media outlets. We also attended the annual ACCTS staff meeting during which I was able to co-lead a worship service ministering the Communion from the Reserved Sacrament, which was extremely well received by the 60 staff present. To relax, I tend to watch our local ice hockey team play and also watch the English Premier League games of the TV.

Health update
Noel’s health has been as good as it ever was before the stem cell transplant 5 1/2 years ago, although at 71, age creeps on. Its been a very good year! This was confirmed by both doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Insitute and the Brigham and Women’s, although Noel continues to have effects of the Graft Verses Host Disease (GVHD) they are very pleased with his continued good health and his next check up appointments are scheduled in 6 months, June 2018. Meryl continues to manage her Diabetes and tries to pace herself and keep healthy as she too finds age creeping on.


The Dawes Family

AT ALNWICK CASTLE, NORTHUMBERLAND, JULY 2107 – Left to right: Sarah and Charles, Noel and Meryl, Lucy in Toby’s arms, JoAnn on right. To Meryl’s right are Eve, William and Charlotte on right.

Our family has been extremely busy in 2017
Charles, Sarah, Eve and William continue to live in north east England. The children are doing well at school. Eve has developed an interest in climbing and William is a keen soccer player. Toby, JoAnn, Charlotte and Lucy are about 3 miles away from us near Glens Falls, NY (in the beautiful North Country of New York State on the edge of the Adirondack (National) Park. Their children are also doing well at school. Charlotte has advanced to the next level in gymnastics and Lucy enjoys swimming.

Very happy visit to England
For Meryl and me the best and happiest event of the year was in July, to have our family together in one place for a week for the first time in 3 years. We took Charlotte and Lucy to England for a month in the summer, staying in the north east to whole time so the four cousins could really get to know each other. Toby and JoAnn joined us for the week. Meryl’s niece, Louise, brought her daughter, Maisie, up for two days and the five children enjoyed their time together.

Blessings of marriage and blessings of the season
We are blessed to be celebrating our 47th wedding anniversary just before Christmas.

We thank you for all you prayers, support and love. And we wish you a blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy and peace filled 2018.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Relay for Life 2017

Relay for Life - Celebrate HopeLess than 30 days to go until this year’s Relay for Life on Saturday, June 10th, and we once again are as a family are trying to “Pay It Forward” so others can benefit from the American Cancer Society as we have done. I will be a 9 year Cancer Survivor this year, and no longer need checks. Noel will celebrate the same weekend as we take part in the Relay, 5 years of being cancer free after his Stem Cell Transplant, back in 2012. Noel is now on 6 month review appointments. Charlotte this year celebrates being cancer free for 8 years, she is on annual review appointments.

Fighting cancer may be the toughest job you ever have to do. The disease can hit you on multiple fronts – the cancer itself, the treatments used to fight it, and the side effects of those treatments. Stress also comes on many levels. The American Cancer Society is there to help you cope on many levels.

A huge thank you for supporting Charlotte in her previous efforts to raise funds for the work of the The American Cancer Society, who are a nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Our family has received a huge amount of support from their services. The American Cancer Society is also fully committed to their obligation to spend donor dollars wisely. And I believe they do.

This year, Charlotte wrote this:

My name is Charlotte Emma. I’m 9 years old, turning 10 in July. I’m a gymnast and a CANCER SURVIVOR!

Please help me to help others to be CANCER SURVIVORS.

I’m raising money for Relay for Life. This year will be my 7th Relay for Life.

If you would like to help Charlotte in her effort this year please visit her page at

The Relay for Life event that Charlotte and her team HEARTS of HOPE participate in takes place the first week of June 2017 in Greenwich, NY. If possible we would like all donations in by the 1st of June.

2015 Greenwich Relay for Life

Noel, Meryl, and Charlotte
2015 Greenwich Relay for Life

If you would rather send a check directly to us, please make out to The ACS Relay for Life and on the memo line write Charlotte Dawes, Greenwich, NY. Please message us for our address where to mail your donation.

Many thanks,

Charlotte, Granny Meryl and Poppa Noel, The Relay Trio

As the Colours Change and the Nights are Shorter…

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” – Psalm 145: 13b (NIV)

Long over due update… but no news has been good news. All is well!

Eating Kipper Sandwiches in England

Eating Kipper Sandwiches in England

But why does the summer always go so fast? Because it’s so much fun… yes, our summer was great fun. The highlight being our month long trip to England to see family and friends for the first time in 18 months. We give the Lord great praise that we had great travel, wonderful weather, stayed healthy, and saw 22 family members, 8 friends and Noel attended the 50th anniversary of his time at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. We spent wonderful quality time with our grandchildren Eve and William, both close to home and at the seaside. The cottages we rented and the B&B we stayed at were all lovely. We ate lots of the English food we miss from kippers to tea cakes.

Meryl on crutches

Meryl on crutches

Towards the end of our visit I, Meryl, had an unwanted highlight with a trip to the local medical center and then the hospital. I damaged the meniscus of my right knee getting out of a boat. I came home on crutches and was rushed to the front of all the lines at the airports in a wheel chair. We got upgraded seats and everyone was very kind… but I don’t recommend the injury! Although it is now much better, it’s been no fun and quite frustrating.

Back home we have been catching up with Charlotte and Lucy. It’s back to school last week, 1st and 4th grade – time goes very quickly. We will be back doing after school care 3 days a week. This will include homework, gymnastics, dance, and swim lessons for 2 very busy girls. Only wish we had half their energy!! As life is always busy.

We have been blessed to be able to carry out much ministry this year, even though funds are just over $1,000 behind on the extra support needed for 2016’s larger budget that we started praying for last Fall/Autumn… please pray for the ministry needs to be met.

In March, Noel helped lead a Lay Chaplains training and in April ministered one-to-one with several active duty Chaplains at the annual Anglican Armed Forces Jurisdiction (diocese) convocation. In June, Noel helped Rev. Nigel Mumford (as his “right hand man”, as Nigel says) with a very successful Welcome Home Initiative (WHI) war zone Veterans retreat in Florida. The next weekend we gave two presentations about WHI at the Albany Diocese annual convention and, as part of the healing prayer team, prayed with numerous needy people. The following weekend after that, we organized and led a training workshop for 18 people who wanted to learn more about how to pray effectively for the inner healing of war zone Veterans and First Responders. After all that we felt we needed the break in England that Meryl talked about above!

The UK break behind us, this past weekend Noel was back into ministry with a trip to Alabama. He has written separately about this second Academy for 2016 on CaringBridge,, his Personal Facebook page, and the Support Noel Page. A few of our friends have asked and receive this and other reports directly by email.

We have a busy Fall ahead of us so watch for out updates…

We have a visit to Boston later this month, visits are now every 3 months and we pray that the appointments continue to be well spaced. Noel is very heathy but he is still fighting the GVHD with the horrible mouth sores and occasional digestive tract issues. They are better than last year but please pray they will go away. He does not complain but it’s often miserable for him.

We thank you for continuing to walk with us on our journey and for your encouragement, support, prayers and love.

Please stay in touch with us by email, phone or Facebook. We love hearing from you and knowing how we can pray for you.

May 2016 UPDATE and just a month until the 2016 RELAY FOR LIFE

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Everyday we give thanks to the Lord as Noel is now 5 years past his first diagnosis of the rare bone marrow cancer and almost 4 years post his Stem Cell transplant,which gave him new life..and he is cancer free . For those of you following the story, you know it has been a journey in which we have had to trust the Lord every step of the way and He has been faithful and shown us great mercy… the journey for Noel was often not been easy..and he still has daily issues with the effects of the GVHD..graft verses host disease, mainly with the nasty mouth sores., At the last visit to the oral doctor he was given steroid injections into his mouth and he is still on a low oral dose of steroids and the 4 times a day mouth wash. But he is back to his ‘old self’ and doing lots of ministry again,,,and my role as his caregiver has returned to just that of a wife.

Daily we are thankful that not only is Noel cancer free but i’m 8 years cancer free and Charlotte is 7 years cancer free….. we will again this year be Celebrating this by taking part in the RELAY FOR LIFE at Greenwich NY on June 3rd and 4th, we hope for good weather unlike the rain of last year ( well actually Noel will miss it as he will be ministering to Veterans on a Welcome Home Initiative Retreat ) But Charlotte and I, along with other members of our team HEARTS OF HOPE will be there. we hope to RELAY, ie walk laps around the track through the’s a 6 pm to 6 am event.

In the 4 years since Noel’s transplant we have had more medical appointments at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston than we can count, but we do know that we have spent in the region of over 200 nights away form home …the American Cancer Society has amazing accommodation available in many areas known as the The HOPE LODGE .and if rooms are available .this saves cancer patients and their caregiver the expense of a hotel, which in a major city it is hard to find for under $150 a night ….so if we had been asked to find in the region of $30,000 for hotel accommodation in the past 4 years..along with all the medical costs ..I have no idea where that money would have come from…but because of the generosity of people who support the American Cancer Society there has been no charge for us to stay at the HOPE LODGE in Boston…

The RELAY FOR LIFE every year is not just a celebration of life.or a time to remember those who’s fight was lost or to support those in the battle but it is a major fund raising event.. we along with many others are raising funds again to help others as we have been helped…

Please if you are able to help us in this, visit Charlotte’s Relay for Life page . where you can make a donation on line or by mail..or you can send a check or money order directly to me and I will do all the paper work for you… our address is 22 Davis St, Glens Falls, NY 12801.. every Dollar makes a difference so no donation is too small and no too big… thank you.

Survivor Trio 2010Here we are at Charlotte’s first RELAY FOR LIFE in 2010 she was the youngest there wearing purple survivor shirt. Me and Charlotte in 2014 ……..the Survivor Trio in 2011 ( actually that was before Noel had his transplant so at that stage he still had cancer but the ACS say you are a Survivor and can wear the purple shirt from the day you hear those awful words “you have cancer’ ……Charlotte in 2014 and our crazy team in 2013 ……
We will update this page again after the Relay with family news and Ministry News…

Thank you and God Bless you for continuing to pray for us and support us..

Time to catch up… First update of 2016

‘This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.’ Psalm 118:24.

They say ‘the older we get the faster time goes…’ I think that is true…

Adirondack Thunder

Meeting Adirondack Thunder players #15 James Henry and #32 Joe Faust at the C.R. Wood Cancer Center in Glens Falls, NY

This is our first update of the new year. I hope it’s not to late to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2016. Thank you all for your many cards and letters during the Christmas Season.

Last year ended on a good note. We had a very happy and blessed Christmas time… along with the mildest, snow free weather in our region for many years. Noel was feeling so much better, but like so many of us, fighting off lingering colds and coughs and a general feeling of fatigue.

Our first visit this year, to Boston to see both Noel’s doctors at the Dana-Farber and the Brigham and Women’s hospitals, a couple of weeks ago was encouraging with a lowering of the steroid again. But the result has been disappointing… with the return of more mouth sores caused by the GVHD that Noel has. This is not only painful but makes eating difficult. So with the Doctor’s agreement he has gone back up on the Steroid dose. And things have settled down again. He sees his Doctor again at Dana-Farber on 24th February, continuing the schedule of visits every 6 weeks.

On our last visit we were able to stay again at Hope Lodge (HL). We had made this booking last year. After almost 4 years the Lodge has become very a familiar place to us. We have stayed over 200 nights there, although we haven’t counted the actual number. Through the generous supporters of the American Cancer Society (ACS), Hope Lodge does not charge for visits although donations are welcomed. This means that cancer patients and their caregivers can stay there regardless of income. This has saved us thousands of dollars in hotel bills. But on January 1st the eligibility rules changed, sadly because people abused the ‘old’ system. ACS now requires a patient to have a doctor’s referral for a minimum of 3 appointments and to stay for a minimum of 3 nights. As Noel usually has only 2 appointments (blood tests and doctor) on his visits we will not be able to stay at HL for those visits. But we will, thankfully, get a medical reduction at a Boston hotel through a special discount arranged by Dana-Farber for their patients. Please pray we will be able to rebalance our tight budget to cope with the increase in expenditure over the year. Thankfully, when Noel sees both his doctors (the next time is April 1st), we will be able to stay at Hope Lodge. We feel so very blessed for this and give thanks to God for his provision. We are so blessed by and thankful for all your prayers and support in so many different ways. Please pray us through this new situation.

Family-wise all is well. Our son, Charles, was recently in Las Vegas from England for the big CES Show. We spoke to him whilst he was on US soil but, sadly, were not able to see him. He’s back home in England now, where Sarah and Eve and William are all doing great… School keeps everyone busy.

Charlotte Gold and Silver

Charlotte Gold on Balance Beam and Silver on Vault

Likewise here in New York’s North Country, Toby and JoAnn are well and working hard. Charlotte and Lucy keep busy with school and their activities at the YMCA. Charlotte recently performed in 3 gymnastics competitions, one of which was held about 150 miles away at Glastonbury, Connecticut. Noel and I were delighted to be able to surprise her and be at the gym there to see her on our way home from Boston. In her age and ability level group (9 girls), she received silver for her Vault routine and gold for the Beam. She was so surprised and pleased she cried tears of joy! Gymnastics is very competitive and Charlotte works hard. She has practice sessions twice a week lasting 2 1/2 hours each time, with the option of doing a third session. She also has a surprising amount of school homework to do so the two sessions are enough, I think. Both girls enjoy their swimming lessons and, for Lucy, swimming is her favorite. Lucy gets extra swimming most Friday’s when she and Poppa Noel swim together whilst Charlotte is in her second gymnastics practice.

Japanese Cherry Blossom

Japanese Cherry Blossom painted at the YMCA

In early January, on a whim, I signed up for an art class at our local YMCA. In a different life before Noel and I were married, I did art and design – but that was over 45 years ago since then I have done nothing in that area. To do so always seemed to be in a different life… in a different world. If I had the time I think I could indulge myself again in this pastime. But life seems too busy most days… But I know I’m going to enjoy the classes!

Noel will now update you on the ministry news… looks like it’s going to be a busy year.

Since the Welcome Home Initiatives finished in November, ministry has been quieter, mostly focusing on planning and early preparations for future events. However, the personal one-to-one ministry with numerous combat Veterans and Chaplains continues face to face and through social media.

I led a review/plan ahead WHI meeting last week, confirming we will carry out our next Retreat at Greenwich from October 31 to November 2. Please mark your calendars now! As a WHI team, we need to raise between $10000-$15000 to give a free retreat to the Veterans who come. This how we thank them for their war service. I’m seeking four or five individuals, churches, businesses or similar who have a heart to help war damaged Veterans, blessing them with a $400 scholarship. Know anyone?

I and a couple of others from NY will drive to Virginia Beach to help Fr. Nigel Mumford’s WHI from November 3 to 5th.

I, probably with Meryl, will help lead another WHI Retreat at The Villages, Florida from June 2-4.

Myself and another Veteran friend plan to help a similar retreat near Fort Campbell, KY in mid-May.

Currently, I, as Prior, am helping my Abbot prepare and carry out a Lay Chaplains’ training Academy in Pelham, near Birmingham, Alabama in early March. This is a major event for the Anglican Armed Forces and Chaplaincy Jurisdiction. The other major ACNA Jurisdiction event is the annual Chaplains’ Convocation in late April. I plan to be there at Mount Pleasant, SC, just across the river from Charleston.

In May, I plan to travel to Virginia Beach for the Annual Board meeting of Olive Branch International who are doing outstanding work in Ukraine. We train non-governmental military chaplains and educate soldiers, chaplains, psychiatric and other medical staff, military wives and others how to deal with traumatic combat stress. These are
urgent, vastly under resourced and huge tasks and it is a privilege to be involved in helping mobilize this indigenous ministry.

Finally, I’d love you to pray for and be involved in three new outreaches which are part of WHI.

First, a new small group of combat Veterans started meeting weekly in Virginia Beach two weeks ago. Inspired and energized by my close friend, Rev. Nigel Mumford, this Combat Stress Recovery (CSR) group has got off to a good start. It is being modeled similarly to an AA group, augmented with inner healing prayer.

Meanwhile, here in the North Country, I’m supporting a combat Veteran friend to get a similar group going. We’ve been working towards this for several months but haven’t yet found the “right” place. Please pray we will find it soon so we can get our White Star group going.

Then, just last week, I had an excellent, in-depth phone call with a WHI alum living about 250 miles away at Rochester, NY. He feels led to be a bridge to the healing of other combat Veterans and is praying about forming a CSR group based on his church. He said to me,

“Just yesterday day I was reading about Moses in Exodus 18. He wasn’t sure how he could cope with the huge task of leading the Israelites. Then his father-in-law, Jethro, came along and gave him some good advice how to make his life more bearable. I feel strongly led to help Veterans but I felt I needed a Jethro to advise me. Then you phoned! This is an answer to my prayers!”

This new situation encourages me that the Holy Spirit is at work and I’m expectantly anticipating what might come about for combat Veterans in Rochester! Pray this CSR group into active existence with me!

The increased activity schedule for this year led me to submit a larger budget to ACCTS for this fiscal year (Oct-Sep) than several previous. I estimated an additional $15,000 was needed for the calendar year. It’s a huge amount and I have no idea where it’s coming from or how the LORD is going to provide it – or if He will. I’m stepping out in faith knowing that if all the plans the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart are even half achieved, God clearly will have provided for them and no-one else!

I estimate we need $10,000 of the $15K to the end of September. I’m putting 10% of this from our own resources. As always, we will adjust ministry activity levels and how we do the ministry according to available resources. And we will have faith that we can cope with the extra we need for medical hotel bills, mentioned by Meryl earlier. Please pray in the extra resources needed to minister in the ways the Lord calls us, in particular, $1500 in each of February, March, $2000 in April and $3000 in May. Meeting these targets gives me the cash flow to buy “capital cost” air tickets far enough ahead to get them at lower prices.

In closing I wanted to share with you the words of a Christmas card received from a combat Veteran a few weeks ago:

“I appreciate all that you have done for us Veterans at the Welcome Home Initiative. I enjoyed the fellowship and friendship and the whole experience. Thank you for the quilt as well – it is very nice and well put together. I hope the thanks can reach the person for making it. Thank you for everything and hope you have a blessed holiday season and hope to see you all again next year.”

(Meryl obtains, selects and allocates the quilts for the Greenwich retreats, the last ones were all made locally.. the request for Quilts was so well received that we have enough already made for the Veteran’s attending our next retreat. )

As always we love hearing for you and catching up on your news…. and thank you for all your prayers, love and support…

Noel’s 3rd Re-birthday. Happy Birthday!

Noel’s 3rd re-birthday… Thursday, June 11th.

2015 Greenwich Relay for Life

Noel, Meryl, and Charlotte
2015 Greenwich Relay for Life

It was a Monday back in 2012 and was the day Noel received the donor cells as the stem cell transplant. On June 12th, we participated RELAY for LIFE! And this evening, our health updates… from Boston and Glens Falls.

This day 3 years ago Noel was in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, having undergone intensive chemotherapy to kill his immune system and make his body ready to receive the donor stem cells. These cells would then make their way to his own none functioning bone marrow and take up residence as his new bone marrow and start to manufacture all his blood. The transplant was and is the only possible chance of giving Noel more years to live. The donor cells are still doing a great job, have cured the cancer and are keeping his blood count levels within a normal range. As we thank God for this wonderful blessing of life, we are also incredibly thankful for the amazing gift of life-giving cells from his then unknown, unrelated donor, Ryan. And we are so grateful to have met Ryan and his wife last Fall, much enjoying the evening we had together. As Noel received the cells through the port he had in his chest we asked, “how do these cells know where and how to get to the large bones where the blood is made?” Noel’s eminent oncologist, the head of the stem cell transplant team at Dana-Farber, replied, “we don’t know. We simply don’t have a clue!” So, to us another part of the miracle was that God created the
capability from the beginning for theses cells to ‘know’ exactly where they must go to!

However, those donated cells sometimes really do think they are ‘boss’ and occasionally just try to take over control and reject Noel! This manifests itself as the Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD) that we often talk about. This has been a long and somewhat difficult year for Noel after catching a nasty respiratory virus back in January, which was the cause of this latest bout of GVHD but at yesterday’s visit to Dr Soiffer at the Dana-Farber things looked brighter as he reduced the dose of steroids by another 5mg…. down to 15mg. Noel was on 40mg each day last January. So hopefully the side effects of weaning off the Prednisone will begin to improve and be less bothersome. The GVHD is still producing mouth sores and the clinical trial Noel has been in for the last month ended yesterday. Testing a medication as a mouth wash seemed to make little significant difference to the sores… so he will now go back to using the mouthwash he was using before. Dr Treister, the oral care doctor, was grateful for Noel’s participation in the trial and will continue to work with Noel to try and find something to help with the sores. The sores are better than they were and are mostly bearable. Although GVHD is very unpredictable, Noel is a lot better than he was 6 months ago..but we know another extreme flare up could happen again. But we pray not. His fatigue comes and goes… but he perseveres on… Next appointments with both doctors are scheduled for one months time.

I had a funny episode myself last week , with terrible chest pains. Although different to when I had the heart attack just 12 months ago. Noel took me to the ER to get checked out. This ended up with a 30 hour stay in the hospital… And lots of tests. Nothing of any
significance showed up. The pain subsided and it remains a mystery… but I have appointments to follow up with my Cardio and PC doctors and a lung doctor… I guess it is best to get everything checked. But I feel OK now…

2015 Greenwich Relay for LifeLast Friday was our now yearly family event RELAY for LIFE… at Greenwich NY… It’s our 6th. We would like to thank everyone who have supported our efforts to raise money for the American Cancer Society… your donations to Charlotte’s Relay Fund will make a difference. Overall it seems that fundraising for the Relay this year has been down…we also found this. But we will continue to try to pay it forward to the American Cancer Society… because we have benefited so much in being able to stay overnight at the excellent ACS owned and run accommodation in Boston almost every time we have needed to be there for Noel’s appointments over the last 3 years. Although Hope Lodge is responsible for raising it’s own operating costs (more than $1M a year), so direct donations are welcomed, there is no charge to stay there (Relay for Life donations go to the wider work of ACS). With this blessing, we have ‘saved’ thousands of dollars that otherwise we would have found it extremely difficult to pay for hotel rooms at the same time as buying some expensive medications even though Noel’s health insurance policy is a very cost-effective one. One day I will sit down and work the ‘savings’ out!

So a big thank you for supporting us and others by supporting the American Cancer Society. You can still donate by visiting Charlotte’s page… Which remains open for the next few days.

Noel adds, ministry over the last month has become rather busier than earlier in the year, as Spring turned to summer. I have been able to listen to, encourage, pray with and have good one-to-one fellowship with the ten or so Chaplains and combat Veterans I count among my friends. I know the Lord blesses me throughout these relationships and, I pray, they also bless my friends. The main ministry event was the annual Convention of the Diocese of Albany. Held at a purpose-built summer vacation camp about 60 miles from home. Meryl and I, with three others, twice presented a workshop informing those attending about the Welcome Home Initiative. It was successful even though attendance was light. Those who came were clearly in the ‘right’ place and we pray they will either come to a retreat on their own or, better still, with a buddy; help finance a scholarship ($300); feel called to help WHI in some other way; and pass the information on to others. The weekend was blessed with sunny weather, many friends whom we had not seen for a while, wonderfully uplifting worship services, especially the Eucharists, and excellent faith deepening and uplifting preaching by the keynote speaker, former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. My testimony of healing, given at Saturday evening’s service of healing, was well received and I was able to pray for and encourage several people who were challenged by differing moral, soul injuries due to combat and other military related traumas. Additionally, as a Lay Chaplain and Prior of the Order of St. Martin of Tours, I have been involved in planning for the annual convocation of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy Jurisdiction (aka Diocese) of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). This included the regular monthly video-telephone conference call to keep in touch with our other Lay Chaplains. Please pray that the fruit of these successful activities will bless us at the convocation from July 9-12 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Please also pray for us as we take part in a Welcome Home Initiative at a church in West Palm Beach, Florida from July 16-18, led by our good friend, Rev. Nigel Mumford.

Meryl again, thank you for all your prayers, we know your prayers are being answered, please continue to stay in touch with us, we love hearing your news as well as writing about our own. Both our sons and their families are doing well, no family reunion is planned for this summer but both families have busy summers ahead of them, so please continue to pray for us all.

God bless you and your families as the vacation season gets into full swing.

Happy New Year and News from Glens Falls!

Dear friends and family

Meryl and Noel in South Africa

Meryl and Noel in South Africa

It is now 2 months since my last update… And much has happened… We left the day after Thanksgiving for our trip to South Africa and to spend Christmas and New Year in England… The trip went well we had a fantastic time in both countries with many blessings and answered prayers… much to share and talk about from Global Interaction, sightseeing in such a beautiful location and time with the grandchildren and other

At The Angel of the North

At The Angel of the North

family members. I could write a book! But all that now seems far behind us, as we arrived back in the USA on Monday evening with Noel feeling very much under the weather as the old saying goes.

Even before leaving home in November Noel had been experiencing some troublesome recurrence of sores in his mouth, a symptom of the Graft Verses Host Disease (GVHD) that has bothered him from time to time since the stem cell transplant, now 2 1/2 years ago. During our trip the sores continued to become more and more bothersome and painful, making it difficult to enjoy much of the delicious food he loves, he put on a brave face and complained little. But by last week even eating bland soft food had become difficult as the sores now covered his whole mouth and inner lips… he was also showing some other signs of GVHD, a skin rash and a lot of digestive discomfort. Noel then developed what we thought was a bad cold and cough..

By the time we boarded the flight home on Monday he was not at all well feeling very poorly. Thankfully we had Tuesday here at the Hope Lodge in Boston for him to rest all day. Unable to eat, even drinking Ensure through a straw was very painful. Wednesday morning we went for his regular appointment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Dr Soiffer was visibly shocked to see his condition and ordered numerous tests. Called the head of the Oral Surgery Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr Treister to look at Noel’s mouth… He has prescribed a new medication mouth wash and ointment, which will hopefully bring some relief from the pain. Noel’s liver functions are all over the place and he tested positive for a virus, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) which is particularly dangerous to newborn babies and anyone with a compromised immune system such as Noel… no wonder he feels so very ill. He is being treated with a 2 week course of antibiotics and has to be seen back at the Dana Farber next Wednesday.

Hopefully by then the virus will be much better and they can better access the GVHD and decide how to treat it. They are reluctant to rush back into prescribing steroids as these in themselves have lasting side effects and consequences. But whatever they decide it’s going to be weeks before Noel is anywhere back to normal. He is exhausted.

As you can imagine all this is frustrating for Noel as this new year held so much promise with new Ministry opportunities and a full calendar of events. All of which are on hold at the moment.

So please pray this is a journey with twists and turns, mountain tops and valleys… we do not loose sight of what The Lord has done for us giving Him thanks and praises as we hold on to His promise that he has good plans for the future. We are a little discouraged but not downcast. Pray for relief of this pain which Noel described to me to day as torture for the virus to leave him, and for the GVHD to subside. For renewed strength. But also for patience for both of us to get through the tough times.

We are looking forward to being home in Glens Falls. Seeing our friends and family.

We pray you all have a blessed year ahead… Please do keep in touch with us… We did not send out traditional Christmas or New Year greetings… But we want to be in contact with you. God Bless you!

Transplant plus 16 months

It’s been 6 weeks since I posted an update… 16 months post transplant

‘…they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint’. Isaiah 40:31.

The six weeks since we returned from the UK and Noel’s last appointment in Boston have gone by very fast. We have been doing a lot of early morning walking trying to build up our stamina and enjoying the lovely Fall weather we have been blessed with this year. Noel has felt good but feeling a little more tired than he has been for some while… and still has a number of mouth sores and the ongoing digestive problems. But everyone tells him he is looking good, including me! I think he is better than the average!!

Today we saw Dr. Soiffer. Noel’s blood tests revealed his levels of red blood cells to be stable but still low at 3.45, white blood cells, stable at 4.2 are within the normal range and his platelets also stable but lower than normal at 102. All these figures are very slightly lower than the last visit on August 23rd.

Today Dr. S showed concern but was not worried about Noel’s liver and kidney function levels, which are both slightly elevated. Dr. S decided to up Noel’s dose of the steroid a little and to see him again in 3 weeks. We are happy with this although we were planning Boston trips every 6 weeks, but we are pleased that Dr. S likes to keep a close eye on Noel.

We are not discouraged but trust in the Lord and mount up with wings as eagles…

We recently had the good news that Noel’s stem cell donor has indicated he would like contact with us. No contact can be made until a year after the transplant… we have now passed that date… and have been given his name and address. He lives in Virginia Beach… which is a sort of coincidence since we lived in that area for 10 years. We hope soon to make contact with him and possibly meet him one day… to thank him for his gift of new life.

Noel also had his ‘flu shot today… which will hopefully protect him in the coming ‘flu season.

We are blessed to again be able to stay this week at the Hope Lodge. We are now on the wait list for a room for Noel’s next appointment at the DFCI , 22 October for 2 nights. Hopefully a room will become available (please pray that this will indeed happen) otherwise we will have to stay in a hotel.

Our lives have been busy, helping with daycare for Lucy and before and after school care for Charlotte… They are both doing well Charlotte is enjoying First Grade and Lucy her 2 mornings at preschool.

We were very proud parents last week when Toby was one of the 20 local people to receive an award “20 under 40” sponsored by our local newspaper. He, along with 19 others, were chosen from a submitted list of 92 names as influential local leaders with excellent potential for the future. We were able to celebrate with him at the Awards Lunch for family and friends from work and his church.

In the last couple of weeks we have also been blessed by visits from 2 sets of good friends from England. Tamsin and Steve came to lunch while touring the Boston and New England area. We had not seen them for more than 6 years. But those years quickly drifted away and we could not believe it had been so long. Ted and Caroline came to stay for the weekend. They last visited us just after we moved to Glens Falls, 6 years ago, but they have hosted us 4 or 5 times in their home in England since then. What a blessing from the Lord good friends are.

Charles and family continue to do well. Sarah in her teaching role and Eve and Will in first grade and Nursery at school. Charles continues to be very busy traveling internationally every week. In the last three weeks he has attended trade shows and meetings in Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Mexico and Luxembourg.

Noel writes… Life has been increasingly busy on the ministry front too, but it is so good to get back into serving God through serving Chaplains and Veterans. There have been two pray and plan Board meetings for Rev. Nigel Mumford’s new ministry, By His Wounds (BHW) ( or and Noel and a BHW Colleague are planning and preparing the next Welcome Home Initiative being held at Longfellow’s Hotel and Conference Center, Saratoga Springs, from November 18-20. We will be trying out the new teaching material on DVD, which was made during the summer. Noel is editing a participants booklet for the retreat and would appreciate prayer that a helpful, encouraging and inspiring booklet will result. Noel has also kept in touch with several Chaplains and Veterans and has hopefully been an encouragement to them as he listens, tries to understand them and the points they are making, and then prays with them openly or silently. His role is not to counsel but often he is able to suggest advice borne out of his own experiences. Noel has also begun to try and recruit scholarship donations for international military folk who need help to get to the next AMCF world event (held only once every 10 years) to get to Global Interaction, a huge training and equipping the saints event in South Africa from Nov 30 to Dec 6 next year (for more information, please contact Noel). Lastly, can you pray for an exciting development that we pray will help the healing of male and female Wounded Warriors at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. A lunchtime Alpha course starts at the Warrior Transition Battalion this week. We thank God for ministry cooperation with Cru Military and their staff member, COL, USA Ret, Keith Morgan, an old friend, who will lead the course on behalf of Chaplain D. We pray for a huge outpouring of God’s power to bring spiritual peace to these brave Soldiers and their families.

Prayer needs… AND praises…

  • To be able to stay at Hope Lodge on October 21-23.
  • For ongoing healing progress, especially regularizing of liver and kidney functions, platelets and red blood count; fatigue, mouth sores and alimentary canal issues.
  • For an enjoyable and productive ACCTS staff meeting at White Sulphur Springs, south central Pennsylvania from October 6-12. We are both going to represent our ministry.
  • For the new Alpha course at Fort Belvoir (see details above). To the best of our knowledge, Alpha has not been used in this way before.
  • For the ongoing preparation and planning for the November Welcome Home Initiative at Saratoga Springs (see details above).
  • For ‘being like Jesus with skin on’ as we minister (listening, loving and praying) within our family; at church; on the healing prayer team at the Spiritual Life Center; with By His Wounds; and one-to-one with Chaplains and combat Veterans.

Next update will be after Noel’s next appointment on October 23 rd at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Thank you all for your continuing interest in our journey… We pray for you all as we see your names and when your names pop into our minds which is often. Please continue to keep in touch with us, we greatly value your friendship and faithfulness to us. God bless you and keep you in His perfect peace and fill your hearts with joy…

Transplant Day +352 – Continuing Progress

Written in Boston, Wednesday June 29th – Post Transplant Day 352.

Once again we are blessed by being able to stay here at the Hope Lodge, where, through the generosity of donors to the American Cancer Society, we have stayed here ‘free’ on over 40 of our visits to Boston.

“And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three, but the greatest is charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

In our lives, through the grace of God, we have been blessed with much faith and this has given us much hope and we have experienced much charity and love from our God and our family and our friends. And we are so very grateful.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to our effort to raise money to ‘Pay it Forward’ to the American Cancer Society…

Our Relay for Life is this Friday / Saturday… in Greenwich, NY. There is still time to visit our team, Hearts of Hope, web page and make a donation… the fund remains open for a while. Every dollar counts and helps in the war on cancer… and in support of those in the battle zone. One in 3 will hear those life changing words, ‘you have cancer’.

Click on this link and scroll down to our team members, click on their name to make a donation… many, many thanks..

Today’s appointment with Dr. Soiffer at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, was a good one… Noel has been feeling so much better. The steroid mouth wash has taken away most of the the pain and discomfort of the mouth canker sores although not all of them have gone. He has felt like he has had more energy and is motivated to get on with returning to ‘normal life’ ….especially his work in the mission field with the military. Noel does not believe there is any mention of a retirement plan in the Lord’s work or the Bible, so he looks forward to being busy again.

Although his blood levels remain much the same as they were 3 weeks ago – no great change for the better or the worse – he remains stable. Dr Soiffer decided to lower the oral steroid tablet down a little, saying call him if Noel experiences any changes or needs to ask questions. Please pray this lower dose will not cause the GVHD to manifest itself again in a recurrence of the nasty painful mouth problems (thrush and canker sores).

So praise the Lord, progress is taking place. Last Sunday we attended the morning worship service at St Mary’s Church, Lake Luzerne. The service is known by different names such as the Eucharist, Mass or Communion or the Lord’s Supper and is an import part of our life. It was exactly one year since we had last been there… We had a great welcome back from everyone…and we enjoyed being there. We felt we were able to worship in spirit and in truth. The previous week we had both attended the Welcome Home Initiative (WHI) Healing Retreat at the Spiritual Life Center. Noel having had permission from his Doctor in Boston to be there.

I asked Noel to report on the WHI so these are his thoughts in his own words……
Noel coped well with the intense and tiring three day schedule of listening, showing care and compassion and praying for the 8 combat Veterans and 4 wives who came to thIs, the 14th WHI Retreat at the Spiritual Life Center since March 2008. Noel has co-led three more Retreats in Colorado and Ohio. Meryl played a key role too, both making sure Noel ate ‘safe’ food, but particularly in provisioning the beautiful quilts that each combat Veteran is given. There were several active duty Soldiers from Fort Drum including an Army Chaplain and a female officer,whose husband is currently serving in harm’s way on his third deployment. We were able to organize a very meaningful ‘retreat’ for her 10 year old son who came too. Four retreatants were Vietnam Veterans, and an serving Canadian Air Force Chaplain came for the second time. This retreat was characterized by a wonderful spirit of openness and expectation as to what God might do, almost from the start. Usually this does not develop until the second day. So God delivered mightily, with Christ the Healer being tangibly present in the power of the Holy Spirit. Everyone received healing and blessing in some way or other. One beautiful story is of an American helicopter pilot who evacuated many, many terribly wounded and dead from front line battles, receiving much incoming fire as he did so. He mentioned that he never knew what happened to any of those he saved. As he said that, two of the other Vietnam Veterans, unknown previously to each other, said they had each been ‘casevaced’, wondering aloud if it had been our pilot Veteran who might have been their pilot. They will never know, of course, if he was, but it really doesn’t matter. The healing point is that the pilot, Hal, got some very affirmative feedback and thanks for the extremely dangerous and self-sacrificing job he did in combat, and the other two, John and Lewis, thanked their ‘savior’ and their Savior for rescuing them from certain death. Many tears were shed as we saw this scene come to life in our midst, and great was the praise and thanks to God, who promised to never leave us or forsake us, even if we thought He wasn’t there.

One of the beautiful aspects of the WHI Retreat to us was the way the Lord brought into one focus the several ministries we are involved in: healing; combat Veterans; Chaplain care and support; international military contacts; and the imparting and development of Christian growth, sometimes from scratch, sometimes renewal of a long dead faith and encouragement of firm faith. All this is absolutely ‘Gospel Truth’, preaching the Good News (more through example but also with words) and healing the sick! Hallelujah!

Now I, Meryl, continue to write……..Today, Dr Soiffer said ‘Yes’ to the question Noel asked about going back to the YMCA to use the exercise equipment and the indoor running track….but ‘No’ to going into the pool to swim. There are too many germs there for Noel’s still compromised immune system. Dr. S also said we could go to BAD restaurants …??? “What?” we said… He told us that he meant the less popular ones so as to be with fewer people…so, if we do go out to eat we will have to pick a quiet time at a good restaurant as we don’t like bad ones!! Ha, ha!! But all this is great progress towards living normally again as restrictions are lifted but taking care to be sensible about where we go and what we do.

June 11th will be Noel’s re-birthday, as the medical folk like to call it: that is, the day Noel received the gift of a new life! The first anniversary of his Stem Cell Transplant…. The year has seen many ups and downs…it was at one time described to us as a ‘roller coaster’ and a ‘tightrope’. Nothing was certain. But your prayers sustained us! Noel’s resilience was amazing and the love and support of our family and friends saw us through. God proved to be faithful, as His word says, and new every morning new mercies we saw, as he provided for us in so many ways. We are grateful to God and to each and everyone of you. Not least of course to the young man, 28 years old at the time, who donated new life to Noel in the way of his stem cells. We do hope that now the year has passed he will have indicated that he would like to have contact with us… We certainly would like to have contact with him.

The journey into new life will continue for some time yet with Noel still on a number of medications and still frequent trips to Boston, at the moment every 3 weeks…but we hope as time progresses the time between visits will lengthen. His next appointment is on June 17th.

The grandchildren on both sides of the Atlantic are doing well – as are their parents.

Toby and Charlotte will be spending the night together camping out at the Relay for Life… we hope it is a fine night and not plagued with thunderstorms as last year was, when they had to pack up and leave in the early hours of Saturday morning. JoAnn and Toby celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary this coming Sunday, June 2nd.

The building work at Charles’ and Sarah’s house is now complete and they are all enjoying the extra space the extension gives them. It looks good from the photos we have seen. Charles continues his busy work schedule, traveling this week to a trade show and meetings in Mexico City. Next week he is in three European countries, with Washington DC the week after.

Thank you for continuing to take an interest in this journey we are on… Your continuing love, prayers and support are a huge blessing and encouragement to us both.

We look forward to more real contact, not just this virtual contact with many of you soon…

Please continue to pray for us, and families and our transition back into ‘normal’ life.

God Bless you all.

Transplant Day plus 227

Hampton Inn, Boston

‘Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people.’ 1 Chronicles 16:8

This week we have much to give the Lord thanks for. Here are some of the reasons why.

We left Glens Falls yesterday in bright sunshine but freezing temperatures fully expecting to see snow as we drove east. But thankfully the day stayed clear and dry as today has been, along with the coldest below freezing temperatures for 2 years… we hope tomorrow’s drive home will also be dry and clear.

We are thankful again to be able to stay here at the Hampton Inn in Boston as there was no room at the Hope Lodge… thankfully getting a hospital discount on the normal room rate.

We were thankful today that Noel’s blood work was stable, much the same as last week and although we patiently wait to see higher numbers we are happy – as is Dr. Soiffer – that for now the results stay stable. This being so, and as Noel has not needed any transfusions for the last couple of months, we give thanks that today Noel’s Hickman line was removed… this only involved a little discomfort and the wound should heal quickly. After over 7 months of daily flushing the lines to prevent clotting and covering the site with ‘press and seal’ before Noel showered, I am happy for both of us to no longer be doing this ‘caregiver’ task.

This weeks blood results were almost exactly the same as two weeks ago.

Red Blood cells, 2.66 — Two weeks ago, 2.68 — Normal, 4.2-5.6
White Blood cells, 3.4 — Two weeks ago, 3.4 — Normal, 3.8-9.2
Platelets, 56 — Two weeks ago, 58 — Normal, 155-410

We are thankful Noel’s liver and kidney levels were also much the same. The toxicity levels seem to be affected by the anti-rejection drugs he takes and so should eventually return to normal.

We are thankful that Dr. Soiffer seeing the GVHD is still slowly improving, again lowered the steroid dose… Noel has put on some weight because of the steroids and also has a ’round face look’ typical of those on steroids and we are thankful this should eventually go away after he comes off them.

We are thankful that, although Noel’s progress is still slow, Dr. Soiffer confirmed what Amy said 2 weeks ago. Appointments can now be spaced 3 weeks apart so the next one is planned for Wednesday, February 13th. (Five years to the day when Charlotte has her port inserted for her cancer treatments).

Noel eats an Angus Bacon Cheeze BurgerNoel was thankful that, whilst waiting to hear this afternoon’s appointment time for his Hickman removal, he was able to have lunch of a freshly cooked Angus Burger with bacon and cheese. This was his first meal not cooked by me since May last year!! He is not yet cleared to eat normal ‘take out’ food or to eat in restaurants but we found a quiet place to sit, away from others, and the chef at the grill at the Dana-Farber restaurant was willing to cook the burger fresh for Noel. Normally during the busy lunch time they are pre-cooked and kept warm – a big “no, no” for the food Noel eats.

  • We are thankful even with coughs and colds in the family we have stayed well.
  • We are thankful that we are able to walk for exercise at the Glens Falls Civic Center away from crowds and in a warm and dry environment.
  • We are thankful for seeing our grandchildren Eve and Will in England in real time via the computer and have some one on one interaction with them.
  • We are thankful for the time we can spend with Charlotte and Lucy.
  • We are thankful for Father Dave bringing us the Reserved Sacrament each week.
  • We have been thankful for Bishop Dan Herzog’s ministry as interim priest-in-charge at the church we attend, but haven’t set foot inside for over 7 months. He and his wife, Carol, have visited us numerous times, bringing Communion when Fr. Dave could not come.
  • We are thankful for phone calls and emails and even Facebook that keeps us in contact with friends.

Above all, it is to the Lord we are most thankful and we know that all things work for the good for those who love Him… and we are grateful for so many answered prayers and blessing. Please give thanks with us.

Please continue to pray as before for us on this journey to full health.

  • For Noel’s new donor bone marrow to make good strong blood cells.
  • For the resources to cover all the ongoing medical and drug costs.
  • For patience as we spend more time at home but still with many restrictions.
  • For our families here and in England.
  • For safe traveling in winter conditions.

With love and prayers for you all. Thank you for reading our updates and praying for us. Your encouragement to us has been amazing over the last few months… God Bless you.