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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ratchet up those prayers!

I haven't written for a few days. You've probably assumed that my silence means tough times ... and that is right. Part of the process to prepare for the radiation and transplant that is scheduled to begin on September 30th, is to wean Mitch off the steroids that have improved the status of his lung inflammation. (He cannot go to transplant while on steroids.) Unfortunately, weaning the steroids has caused the lungs to show more inflammation. Today, he had a bronchoscopy to see how to address this situation. At this point, the doctor says, "We're taking it day by day."

Your prayers for a miracle are greatly appreciated. The doctors are frustrated - you could pray for their wisdom, too.

Our fellowship with one another is sweet and the Lord is being glorified and trusted completely.

Thanks - Marlene

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hospital news

Mitch has been back in the hospital since Sunday. They were able to determine the exact cause of the fever that caused his re-admit and have been able to treat it with the correct specific antibiotic so he is actually feeling pretty good.

Yesterday, he had another bone marrow biopsy to see what the most recent round of chemotherapy had done. Unfortunately, the results were not encouraging. In order to qualify for the cord blood (stem cell) transplant, he has to be less than 5% blast. He is currently above that. We don't know if his numbers are still decreasing from the chemo or starting to increase again. That could only be determined by another biopsy next week. The doctors have decided against that and have, instead, recommended Mitch for a research treatment which will return to the option of Sam donating for the haplo-identical transplant. This treatment will require extensive radiation therapy which has to be scheduled well in advance. The first opening is September 30th. In the meantime, they are going to be watching him closely and working to keep the leukemia cells in check.

Again, we wait and pray. Many times each day, we ask God to heal in whatever method He chooses. However, I find myself praying more and more for that big miracle where He just fixes it all without the doctors! I know He's able.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to the hospital

Well, 65 hours outside of the hospital is better than none at all! Mitch was welcomed back to the UW Medical Center today around noon. He had spiked a bit of a fever over night accompanied with significant pain from the mucositis (definition: inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract.)

I say "welcomed back" because everyone we've seen tells us how genuinely happy they are to see us ... quickly followed by, "but I'm sorry that you've had to come back." It's an ironic situation. To be here surrounded by familiar faces and good healthcare is comforting; but to be here surrounded by the familiar faces and good healthcare is frustrating, too - because it indicates how sick Mitch still is!

We don't know how long the stay will be this time. Mitch will see his regular doctor tomorrow and we will get an idea of the game plan at that time. For now, they are treating him for pain, inflammation & potential infections the same as prior to his discharge last Thursday.

Thanks for your continued prayers.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Enjoying the freedom

Mitch has been enjoying freedom from the hospital for almost 48 hours now. We've been enjoying sweet fellowship with one another without the constant beeping of the IV machine or regular interruption of nurses & other care-giving staff. Matt teased Mitch & Chelsea that they will have to learn how to relate with one another as a married couple outside of the four walls of the hospital room.

Each day requires a visit to the outpatient cancer clinic for blood work. His first visit back to that clinic included an appointment with a new doctor and PA. New medical supervision is always quick to remind us that Mitch's situation is very serious. Even with the good progress he's made, his condition is tenuous. As I've mentioned many times, he must fit the perameters stipulating remission before he's approved for transplant. Our prayers only increase as the doctors hesitate to offer much hope. After those conversations, I often think of 1 Corinthians 1:25, "The foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of men ...".

We keep asking God to show His glory and work a big miracle. Thanks for joining us in that prayer.


P.S. If you haven't yet seen Matt's blog and can take a minute to read it ... today's article, "Release Shock", particularly blessed me. There's a link in the right column of this page.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Miracle Man

The Miracle Man continues to be evidence of God "showing-off!" Yesterday Mitch was given a follow-up CT scan to see how his lungs have fared these past two weeks. Praise the Lord for His healing touch. The results reported today showed "significant improvement" including the disappearance of some of the nodules that have been a concern. Thank you for your prayers. Thank the Lord for His healing intervention.

In fact, Mitch is feeling so much better that he was disconnected from his IV pole and discharged to recuperate at home for the next several days. He will have daily blood work and clinical appointments at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance but that's not too much trouble in exchange for sleeping comfortably and resting at home.

In conversation with one of the nurses prior to our departure, I commented, "He's certainly living up to his moniker of 'Miracle Man.'" She responded by telling me that Mitch's turnaround is the most dramatic of any she has seen since she's worked on the floor. "Whatever you're doing - keep it up!" she said. Another great opportunity to share ... all we do is pray - it's the Lord who does the "doing"!

Thanks for your continued prayers. We're seeing many miracles and we're very thankful. We know we are not out of the woods as we wait for Mitch to be declared "in remission" and proceed to the transplant. However, we know God is doing a good thing and we are celebrating.


P.S. Chris Rice's song, "Life Means So Much" has been ringing in my head these days. In it, he says - "Teach us to count the days, Teach us to make the days count". Also, "Every day is a gift that we've been given. Make the most of the time every minute you're living." It's a lesson we're learning!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chemo's done ... now we wait & pray

The final bag of chemo finish draining into Mitch mid-afternoon on Monday. Now, the waiting begins. As I've said before, we won't know for a while whether or not the leukemia cells were decimated allowing him to go into remission.

Mitch required blood transfusions today of both platelets and red blood cells. He is always more fatigued during the transfusions but, even now, is working out on the exercise equipment while the final bag of rbc's is transfused.

Thanks for your continued prayers. I was blessed to hear from Mitch & Chelsea's wedding photographer today that he's received almost 8,500 views of their wedding pictures. I find myself praying that everyone who takes the time to look at the photos is praying for Mitch's healing. (If you've not seen the album, you can view it at Choose the tab on the left - "Gallery" and select "Mitch and Chelsea Thomas." I know this is repeat info for many of you - please forgive this proud mama!)

God bless you for your faithful prayers & loving support. We are a very blessed family.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Almost finished chemo

Mitch started his last bag of chemotherapy this afternoon. It runs for 24 hours but the end is sight! Last update, I told you he was feeling poorly in response to this particular chemical. Within an hour of that email, he started to feel much better. His nausea and extreme fatigue subsided and he perked up significantly. They have kept him on steroids to fight the mysterious lung inflammation. Since steroids are known to increase appetite, it is great that his nausea has subsided allowing him to eat when hungry. He continues to exercise regularly and do a much as he can to stay as healthy as possible.

It will be several days - perhaps a couple of weeks before we know whether or not the chemotherapy has done its job and put him fully into remission qualifying him for the cord blood transplant. We continue to pray for a miraculous healing as we wait for medical science to do its part.

Reflecting on 1 Peter 5:10 recently, "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." I find myself asking the Lord if Mitch hasn't already suffered "a little while" and "isn't time for you to restore him now?" I suppose it would be good for you to pray for my patience, too. :-)

Trusting Him who is able,


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday's update - not posted 'til Saturday

Today they started the next two drugs in this chemo round which are running non-stop for 72 hours starting at 3 pm. By 4 pm, Mitch was nauseous and contending with a migraine headache. It was an obvious reaction to the new drug. After increasing his pain medication and sleeping for a couple of hours, he seemed to feel a little bit better but still feels significantly worse than this past week.

The meds are doing their job in killing off the cells. One of these new ones added today is geared to make the leukemia cells more susceptible to the chemo. However, as it works to meet the primary goal; the secondary effect is to suppress his immune system even more. Your continued prayer for his protection (as well as his complete healing) is greatly appreciated.

We're blessed by your support.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chemo and Prayer

Today marked day 5 of the chemo. Yesterday and today, Mitch has been more fatigued than earlier this week but, thankfully, his nausea has not been a problem. This part of the chemo regimen has consisted of one 3-hour bag once a day. Tomorrow, he starts 2 more drugs run concurrently, 24 hours a day for three days. We pray he will not get terribly sick from it!

He continues to walk and work out for at least 30 minutes a day earning his title of "Model Patient" from many of the staff.

We were blessed today to hear (once again) of specific prayers for Mitch. It was particularly sweet to hear of young children who regularly carry the burden to pray for Mitch. Some of them know him well; others have only heard of him but regularly pray for his healing. We have frequently talked about the gospel story of the four friends tearing off the roof in order to lower their lame friend to Jesus. A follow-up comment has often been, "I don't care who those four friends are - it could be four children or four prayer warriors in Iowa. We just want to lay him in front of the Lord for healing."

Thanks for bloody-ing up your fingers in tearing off the roof and helping us in this.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chemo Day 3 (again!)

I realize I haven't updated the blog in a couple of days and for that I apologize. I have not forgotten how many are passionately carrying Mitch to the Lord; so I don't want to keep you waiting for news. Thanks again for your prayers, concern & encouragement. We are very blessed.

Mitch completed his 3rd day of chemotherapy today. (Just 5 more days to go in this regimen.) We are thankful that he's not been sick, yet. I'm certain that is in answer to your prayers. We continue to pray that the chemo is doing the necessary destruction of the cancer cells even while he continues to feel well enough to eat heartily and walk a couple of miles a day.

Yesterday, Mitch's PA said to us, "you needed a miracle ... and you've had a couple of them to this point." It's obvious that she doesn't know the Lord but she acknowledged that something has happened when she said, "Alot of people on this floor pray for a miracle and then just lie there expecting it to happen. You've worked for yours." Then, she proceeded to wave as she left the room saying, "The force be with you." Again, pray with us that God will be glorified and people drawn to know Him ... not just to credit "the force" & self-will. Thanks.

Counting every day as a miracle & praying with every breath -


Sunday, August 10, 2008


Mitch started chemotherapy today - again. We counted - this is round #10! What a champ, however. He's out walking with Matt right now - trying to complete 3 miles before turning in tonight. Nausea and fatigue usually set in after a bag or two of the chemicals, so he's not feeling too poorly yet.

Medications have been adjusted and prayers continue fervently for healing. Medically, it appears that his best hope for survival is to have the double cord blood transplant. However, there are many mountains to conquer to be re-accepted into that treatment protocol. His leukemia must be in remission which means - after this chemo, the white blood cells need to start producing again but the leukemia cells must not start producing right away. Also, the nodule in his lungs (which has been a mystery for more than a month) needs to be identified and remedied.

We continue to trust our wonderful Lord who is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" knowing that He can heal Mitch immediately or He can conquer these mountains and use medical science. Either way - it's a miracle!

Thank you so much for your continued prayer. We are leaning heavily on the faithfulness of God's people to carry this burden with us.


Saturday, August 9, 2008


Wow! What a roller coaster ride. Often, I do not write because I don't want everyone else to be jerked around quite so much. I will try to bring you up to date on our past two days.

After our "glimmer of hope" on Thursday (when Mitch passed some potentially eliminating tests) we waited and prayed as the doctor went over the "final checklist" in preparation for the transplant. He told us he would come in at 5 pm on Friday to give the details on the gameplan. At 3:40, he came in, sat down and said, "here's what I want to talk about at 5." (It always makes my stomach flop when they come in - grab a chair - and start talking very stoically.) OK - the details: An imperative part of the haplo-identical transplant is use of a specific antibody to reduce possibility of rejection. Surprisingly, that antibody is not available - ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY!! They cannot find it at any of the transplant clinics; the company that produces it has none and has no idea when more will be produced! The doctor commented that he has never seen this happen. Bottom line - that transplant cannot proceed without it. It is a mandatory med because Sam & Mitch are only 1/2 matched and it is a very high-risk procedure.

The doctor did not leave us without hope, however. After consultation with the specialists, he has proposed another round of chemotherapy - different drugs than before. Their hope (our prayer) is that this chemo will put him fully into remission; contain the leukemia and qualify him, once again, for the cord blood transplant.

We've been given the "you can go home and be comfortable" talk far more than we'd like but Mitch refuses to give up hope. He has been able to witness strongly of his faith in Christ through all of this. We continue to pray for the hospital staff as they work so hard to help. We would love for him to be totally cured without all the medical intervention; but, daily we see God using Mitch to bless and minister to so many.

We see God working. Thanks for your prayers - we need them more than ever.

-- Still clinging to: 2 Corinthians 2:9-11 "Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Saturday was a special day for us. Mitch and Chelsea were married in a wonderful celebration surrounded by family and friends. Mitch was detached from all his IV's and look very handsome in a suit next to his beautiful bride. We are extremely blessed and thankful for our new daughter.

Following the ceremony and pictures; cutting of the cake; toasting the couple; they were wheeled off in a double wheelchair which was decorated with a "just married" sign and dangling cups and streamers, etc. The staff had decorated Mitch's room where they went back and Mitch crashed
absolutely drained but happy. (You can see pictures of the wedding at

He continues to work hard to get healthy enough for transplant. He is not giving up and we thank you for not giving up in your prayers for him! Mitch is walking at least 2 miles a day and working at his breathing exercises. The clock is ticking and he is highly motivated!!

Sunday was also a very special day. Supt Matt Whitehead had sent out a request for significant prayer & fasting on Mitch's behalf . Around 3 pm, Pastor David Carr, Matt Whitehead & Richard Taylor came in to pray with Mitch for healing. We all continue to pray for a miracle. Thanks for joining us.

After the wedding yesterday, Dr. Bar (Mitch's chief attending physician) made a point to talk with me. She agreed that it is a miracle that Mitch is as well as he is. Two weeks ago she did not think he would be able to stand there without oxygen, but God has strengthened both his lungs and his body. I told her that we pray for her wisdom often and she commented, "we need that all the time around here."

We're clinging to Jesus,