June 5, 21: My 6th Newsletter to Family and Friends – 3rd Cycle, Patience and Farewell

"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up."

Dear family, friends and brothers and sisters,

I intentionally waited a little before writing a new newsletter, because a lot has happened in the last weeks and days, which I would like to tell you about. The 3rd cycle of chemotherapy started on Monday, when we also discussed the further procedure regarding the vertebrae and the back pain with the doctor – more about that below in the section “Personal Situation and Health”.

At the beginning of last week we heard from Dietlind’s sister that her mother, Ruth Epple, was not well. From day to day we expected her to go home. She had turned 90 last September and has been in a demented state for many years in a nursing home in Celle near Hanover. It was hard for Dietlind to experience this only from a distance, because of my illness, the risk of infection and the appointments she was not available to go there now. In previous years, Dietlind had, after all, spent many weeks there in parent care each time. Two years ago, in April 2019, Dietlind’s father had passed away there, after he had lived there as well with Dietlind’s sister.

We are grateful that our oldest daughter Esther used her vacation from school to be there from Thursday, May 27, to Monday, May 31. So Dietlind was able to “sit at the deathbed” for a long time one night via videotelephone call, so to speak, and to say goodbye together with Esther on the spot, amidst much tears and pain. Again and again we sang songs to her mother and prayed with her over the phone.

And finally, God answered our prayers on Tuesday morning, June 1, 2021. At 6:30 a.m. Dietlind’s mother stopped breathing in her sleep and is now allowed to see her Lord and Savior in whom she believed. So Dietlind’s birthday on June 1 was without “celebration” but with some dear visit from brothers and sisters of the church. Felix was his with family in the time also in our house in Tiengen. So we could see them and also our grandchildren. Priscilla spent the day with us. Now we are looking forward to the soon coming birth of the child of Priscilla and Christoph.

All this brought us already again to the limit of exhaustion and tiredness; and we realize that we have to learn better to pay attention to sufficient rest. Yes, there were and are days when we are very down and also have to be careful that our marital relationship does not suffer. We are different, and I must not overwhelm my wife. So I am learning to live by grace and forgiveness over and over again every day and especially not to neglect my relationship with the Lord. I also had a technical problem with the blog and got stuck; there I had to learn to put it aside, ask God for help – and lo and behold, the next morning a whole new idea came up that I just hadn’t thought of the day before, and within a short time the problem was solved.
We are reading a devotional book in the morning with the theme “Dependence” by Jan Philip Svetlik; we are especially impressed by the example of our Lord Jesus. The day before yesterday the message on Psalm 5:4 was “Look for answers to prayer”, and was very short, but totally remarkable and hitting a nerve.

Quote (full text):

How often it happens to us that we go to prayer in the morning and by noon we no longer know what we asked God for in the morning! Yet God is pleased when we expect Him to respond to prayer, and therefore consciously look for answers to prayer. He is the "Hearer of prayer" (Psalm 65:3) and we honor Him when we expect Him to answer prayer!

How often I forget to “wait (or look out)” after praying! Job’s patient endurance shows us that God’s goal is always for us to experience His compassion and mercy in the end (see James 5:11).

Next week we continue again with chemo on Monday and Thursday and 2 appointments with physiotherapy.

On Friday afternoon there will be the funeral of Dietlind’s mother in Stuttgart. I hope very much that I can be there in my condition and strength to be at Dietlind’s side at this farewell. Otherwise, other projects will continue as far as my strength allows.

As always, we are heartily grateful to all of you who have encouraged us through prayer, greetings, songs, Bible verses, phone calls and letters. And continue to ask you to accompany us in prayer. If you have a genuine heartfelt concern, please feel free to call.

Very dear greetings, which my wife joins from the bottom of her heart, sends you

Personal Situation and Health

As I said, I am now halfway through the 3rd cycle of chemotherapy. As before, the side effects are minor and well tolerable. On the other hand, the blood values at the beginning of the 3rd cycle show that the therapy is working and the values continue to improve.

As for the back pain, I am now properly adjusted again from the painkillers; even though two lumbar vertebrae are somewhat depressed, the situation is stable and the pain is much more bearable again. That’s why the oncologist advised me, after consultation, not to do any further surgery on my back now, but to wait for the therapy.

This requires some patience, but the chemo is also aimed precisely at making the cancer cells in the vertebrae and other bones disappear. After that, the bone should build up stabilizing substance again by itself. A targeted bone rebuilding therapy is planned, but it can only be started after the complete chemo and stem cell transfusion phase. That is why he spoke of patience, because in all likelihood this can only be next year. But it is always better when the body builds up its own substance again than when foreign bodies are injected now.

Felix, who was able to accompany me on Monday and be present at the doctor’s consultation, also says that it is not good to reinforce two vertebrae in the middle, because then the pressure shifts mechanically to the next vertebrae. It was different with the first vertebroplasty; the pain situation was considerably worse then. Now I simply have to invest more in training the back muscles and soft tissues, also with physiotherapeutic support.

My prayer requests are:

  • Thanks for the good tolerance of chemo and the improvement of back pain.
  • Thanks for avoiding the surgery on the back
  • Strength for the rest of the 3rd cycle of chemotherapy and the 4th cycle (June 21 to July 9)
  • Strength and preservation also the Friday with the funeral and other appointments
  • Request for a good rhythm between work and rest
  • Request for successful final examination (bone marrow puncture is scheduled for July 12)
  • Request for successful and effective preparation for the autologous stem cell transplantation in July.
  • Request for an early appointment at the University Hospital of Zurich for the subsequent stem cell transplantation.

Thank you so much for your support!