Transplant Day plus 156 – Encouraging news from Boston

“It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…” Psalm 92:1-2


“He gives power to the weak……….He increases their strength”. Isaiah 40:29

Boston Dome no more, fuzzy fluff starting to return!

Boston Dome no more, fuzzy fluff starting to return!

Here in Boston we are praising the Lord as He is faithful and does bring power and strength and healing.

The news is good! Over the last 2 weeks since Noel’s last appointment here in Boston he has been slowly feeling so much better… he still has some GVHD symptoms but they are less and not so bothersome and he has had more energy although often just in short bursts. He even felt motivated to read his emails and to talk on the phone even hosting a telephone ministry prayer hour and taking part in another one – things he has not done since last May. The Doctors don’t recommend stem cell transplant patients return to work for 12 months so seeing Noel motivated is encouraging. But life is still just one day at a time on the road to full recovery and often the ‘ups and downs’ come within a day as well as between days.

Today’s appointment was with Amy, the NP, but she said she had discussed Noel’s blood work with Dr. Soiffer immediately before the appointment (she always does) and they had decided to reduce his steroid dose by a third… as Noel is doing so much better, this is good news since long term steroid use can have unwanted side effects.

Noel’s blood levels today showed some improvement in his liver levels but they are doing an extra check because one level remains high. White and red cells counts have improved a little. His platelets remain low and his glucose levels too high but hopefully this will stabilize as he reduces the steroids. So, altogether, there is concern but not over-worry.

Today’s blood levels
White cells 3.0 — Two weeks ago 2.9 — Normal 3.8 – 9.2
Red cells 3.02 — Two weeks ago 2.89 — Normal 4.2 – 5.6
Platelets 48 — Two weeks ago 54 — Normal 155 – 410

As his platelets are still remaining low no date has been set to have the Hickman line removed but as soon as it becomes less likely he will need infusions Noel will be able to have it removed. He asked about how soon he would be able to return to the swimming pool at the YMCA after it is removed. Sadly this will not be for some time yet, Amy said public swimming pools were one of the last places to be restored on the list of places that transplant patients can visit again. She said patients were allowed to swim in private pools and the ocean – not quite the weather yet for either in NE New York (!) – before they could return to public pools and definitely no hot tubs.

A Chimerism test… taken on October 24th, showed Noel’s blood DNA to be 100% that of his stem cell donor. This is exactly the good news we were waiting for as it shows the transplant was/is a success his cancer is in remission and from here on recovery should move only forward. Apparently, it is most likely to remain at this level. Praise God!

Our trips to Dana-Farber and stays at Hope Lodge bring us into contact with a lot of different people with many different cancers. We had two very brief encounters today:

… Over the weeks we have had a number of conversations with a Marine Veteran who is battling and had rediscovered his faith in the Lord. The last time we saw him at Hope Lodge he had been told his treatment options had come to an end but they would not give up on him. He had been much in our prayers and yesterday we had a moment with him, as we got out of a full elevator he got in. In the time the doors opened and shut, he was able to give a thumbs up sign… we took this as encouragement from the Lord telling us He was looking after him and answering our prayers.

… Then, on leaving the building, waiting for our car from Valet parking we saw a young boy about 8 years old with his mom. He was obviously a cancer patient and greatly distressed, weeping silently in his mothers arms. We did not intrude but we both prayed for the Lord to be with them, and silently wept ourselves for them.

We thank God for these brief encounters to encourage and be encouraged. Emotional and spiritual highs and lows come so fast and closely together at places like DFCI and Hope Lodge.

Noel’s next appointment is in two weeks time on Wednesday November 28th. This is good news as it means we will be at home for Thanksgiving. JoAnn has a 5km road run in the morning after which she, Toby, Charlotte and Lucy will all come to our house to share a traditional Turkey dinner… sadly JoAnn’s parents will not be able to join us this year as Darlene has to be at work by 2pm in readiness for the early shop opening time on Thanksgiving Day evening with pre-Black Friday sales… It is very sad that the buying frenzy of the pre-Christmas season is eroding away a traditional family day… bargains enticing people to shop and causing those who work in retail to have to be at work. But none of us will be shopping either day!

Thankfully Charlotte and Lucy have remained healthy, so last week, as we did not have to be in Boston, we were able to help out again with limited day care time… having Lucy for a few hours and Charlotte after school… It was good to have more time with them both again. We will be able to continue to do this as long as they do not have colds or coughs or another infections. Also, we can have visits from friends who are healthy but restrictions remain in place for being in groups of people.

News from Charles, Sarah, Eve and Will in UK is good, the building of the extension to their house is going to plan so hopefully will be finished by Christmas. School and work is going well for them all. But sadly Sarah’s sister and her husband and 3 children who live in New Jersey did suffer extensive flooding damage to their home during Superstorm Sandy… and were without power for many days… but thankfully there are all OK physically.

Toby, JoAnn, Charlotte and Lucy are all doing well… busy with Church, work, school and, for Charlotte, dance, and along with Lucy, gymnastics and swimming.

Please pray this week for:

  • Noel to continue to move forward with his recovery and to continue to feel good.
  • For safe travel as the weather deteriorates as we move further into winter.
  • For us both to stay healthy during the cold season.
  • For Meryl to sleep better, feel less tired… and to feel more motivated especially as the holidays approach.

A word added here by Noel: I continue to be completely amazed at how Meryl copes with the stress and strain of all this care giving. She has remarkable peace and strength, which, in our experience, can only come from/by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Give thanks with us for:

  • the Lord’s faithfulness towards us during difficult days.
  • for His provision for us to continue through the holiday season.
  • for Noel’s healing and returning strength we are seeing day by day.

We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, surrounded by those you love and who love you. As we count our many many blessings we give thanks for all of you, your support and love for us. And we ask the Lord to Bless you and your families with health and happiness.

We enjoy reading your messages… thank you for them!