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.