23 February 2020
Email to a friend
Joyce is now half-way through her third three-week cycle of chemotherapy and continues to tolerate it very well apart from chronic fatigue which severely limits her activities. Her fourth infusion (she is also on daily oral mediation) will be on 1 October, but we do not anticipate the next scan until 15 October- and this will be the moment when we get the first real indication of her condition.
We are both very grateful to the hundreds of friends who are faithfully upholding us in prayer at this time.
With renewed thanks and warmest Christian greetings,
Joyce and I were at the Royal Marsden Hospital yesterday to get the result of the scan taken last Wednesday and I am delighted to be able to tell you that the overall news is very good.
The lesions in her lungs have not altered measurably in size or number, though there may be other signs of some small improvement in that area. However, marker lesions in the liver have reduced by about 50% and there seems to be a 30%-40% reduction in the size of all the liver lesions. We are so thankful for this.
Joyce is now to repeat her first chemotherapy cycle for three months. She will have an infusion tomorrow, followed by two weeks of oral medication, then a week without medication before the next infusion. If the same timing is followed, we would, expect her to have the next scan on or around 7 January.
We are very grateful for your continued prayerful support and know you will want to join us in thanking the Lord for his goodness to us in bringing about this improvement. Please pray for Joyce’s continued recovery and that we will both be given all needed grace, patience and wisdom as we go through this testing time together.
With renewed thanks and warmest Christian greetings,
This a coupleof weeks old now...
"A brief note to say that Joyce had a setback at the Marsden today. Her blood count was fine, but her bronchitis was such that she had to have an x-ray, after which the doctor said she could not have her next chemotherapy infusion tomorrow as planned. She has been given further medication and an inhaler and her next infusion has had to be postponed for at least another ten days. She would value your prayers"
Dr John Blanchard
Joyce was at the Royal Marsden Hospital yesterday for a report on her recent CT scan. The doctor said that there had been another very good reduction in the liver lesions and a further small reduction in those in the lungs. Various options were discussed and he concluded that because of one particular neurological side effect (severe pain in the hands) it would be best to delay any further chemotherapy for three months to give Joyce’s body time to recover from the six months of treatment she had already received. Her next appointment has therefore been set for 27 April, though she can make other arrangements if any symptoms cause her concern between now and then.
We are both very grateful for your prayerful support at this testing time.
Joyce returned to the Royal Marsden Hospital on 27 April as scheduled. The consultant told her she was glad to see that in a blood test taken a few days earlier the tumour markers had shown little or no change even after three months without chemotherapy. It was therefore decided that Joyce should have a further two months without treatment, which means she is due to return at the end of June. This was very encouraging news, for which we are both very thankful.
Joyce continues to get a lot of discomfort in her hands and feet, but there has been a slight lessening of this in recent days and this has been a relief.
We are so grateful you to for your continued prayers and know that we can rely on these for this next stage. Thank you too for your prayers for my South Africa trip, which was remarkably fruitful, ending with 1,000 people at last Sunday’s morning before I left for home that evening.
Dr John Blanchard
I apologise for not posting this when I received it
"Joyce and I spent four hours in the Royal Marsden Hospital yesterday, with several consultations and tests. The first consultation confirmed an initial assessment made following a recent blood test and a CT scan a few days ago, indicating that following five months without chemotherapy the tumour markers had increased ‘significantly’. As Joyce had also brought up blood once or twice in the past few weeks it was decided to do a targeted CT scan immediately to see if there were clots in the lungs. We waited for the result of this which thankfully proved negative, so needed no further action. Joyce is now to resume chemotherapy, and at her next appointment on 13 July we will be told what form this will take and when it will start.
Your constant support at this difficult time is appreciated more than we can see and with you we look to the Lord for his sustaining grace."
Latest from John
"Joyce has been to the Royal Marsden Hospital several times since the last update, but at the moment is receiving no further treatment other than pain control. It was determined that the chemotherapy was no longer being effective and the hospital would like Joyce to receive different treatment (based on antibodies) under a trial drug arrangement.
To determine whether she is qualified to receive this, a sample from the tumour removed last year has to be analyzed and if this proves to be of a suitable type Joyce will then be checked in a number of ways to confirm that she is eligible to undergo the trial. We anticipate having to wait for a further two weeks before we reach this stage.
Thank you again for all that your prayerful support means to both of us.
Dr John Blanchard"
You may be keeping more or less up to date with Joyce’s news via the blog on the home page of my website, but there have been significant developments.
After her fall, Joyce was in Epsom General Hospital for ten days and returned home about a week ago.
We have recently received the result of her latest CT scan, which shows further deterioration in Joyce’s condition. The Royal Marsden is unable to give her any further treatment unless her general health improves considerably, something we have been told is extremely rare. The drug control medication is working well and I am very impressed by the palliative and other care she is receiving. We are both very grateful for that, but realize that we are now entering a part of the journey that humanly speaking we would rather avoid.
We do not rule out the Lord’s gracious intervention, but above all we are asking for a sense of his presence and peace as he works out his ‘good, pleasing and perfect will’.
Dr John Blanchard
Joyce has gone home.
From John Blanchard
Joyce was rushed to Epsom General Hospital by the paramedics at midnight on Tuesday because of concern over her breathing. The hospital diagnosed pneumonia and other complications. I asked for her to kept on oxygen, largely to give our five sons an opportunity to say their Goodbyes during the day. She was in no pain or discomfort, for which we were grateful, but seemed unaware of anything around her.
Margaret Jehan, her cousin came over from Guernsey on Tuesday as a surprise I arranged for Joyce. She vaguely recognized her and there was some minimal communication. Margaret came to the hospital with me. After some hours we returned home at 4.30am, I began calling the boys at 7am, and returned to the hospital at 8am. By 2pm the boys had all made it to the hospital.
Joyce’s breathing remained a cause for concern, but around 2.30 she changed to a lovely, quiet, steady rhythm, and around 3pm responded peacefully to the Lord’s call to come home. I am so grateful that she had been in virtually no pain for months and that there was such a peaceful end to her earthly life.
Your support during the past two years has meant more than I could ever put into words. I am so grateful. Please pray that I might be given true wisdom as I lead the boys in making the many practical plans that need to be put in place. Pray too that as her Thanksgiving Service is held (details later) God will graciously use it to the blessing of many and to the conversion of any family members and others present who are outside of Christ
I am so grateful for the hundreds of friends who have been upholding me in prayer since my beloved Joyce was called home on 17 February and am so thankful for your fellowship during these dark and difficult days. My grief is beyond words, yet I rejoice in the assurance that Joyce is now in the glorious presence of her God and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, which is 'far better' than anything she ever experienced here on earth.
Thank you especially for your prayers last Friday, 5 March. The graveside service was grand – dignified, moving and challenging to those outside of Christ. The Thanksgiving Service that followed was outstanding, with delightful tributes to dear Joyce and, as I had asked and Joyce would have wished, the faithful preaching of the gospel.
I will pay my own tribute to Joyce in the next issue of Newsline, due early in May, and give some indication of the donations given in Joyce’s memory and which will be distributed to her chosen charities.
I have now entered a new phase of life, after over 52 years of Joyce’s lovely company, and must soon pick up the threads of the ministry – without Joyce’s support, but not without God’s promised presence and his gracious enabling. Newsline will continue to report on this. If you do not receive it regularly (three times a year) and would like to do so, please let me know.
This will be the final ‘Joyce blog’, but by God’s grace I will seek to press on in the ministry he has given me and to fulfil my commitment to do ‘as much as I can, as well as I can, for as long as I can.
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