Saturday, March 6, 2010

Immeasurably More

Bernie presenting diplomas at Tamagawa Seigakuin's
2009 graduation ceremonies

Giving glory to God
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV).

Our newsletter is a little late this month—on purpose. We wanted to be able to give you the latest news on Cheryl’s cancer journey, a journey that began one year ago when she was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in March 2009. What an incredible year it has been! Following removal of her left kidney in April 2009, the cancer recurred in September, less than six months later. Since September, she has been taking Sutent, an oral chemotherapy that is proving to be effective in fighting the cancer, with a goal of sending it into remission. It will be a life-long fight, but God is proving himself faithful day by day as we live hopefully in him. Join us in giving glory to God.

An update on Cheryl
We are praising God for the wonderful result of our visit to MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, on February 25-26. What we heard was “immeasurably more” than we had dared to hope for. In fact, the only news that could have been better was hearing that Cheryl was cancer-free We almost had to be shooed out of the doctor’s office and told, “Go home!” because we just kept sitting there and expecting the “bad news” to come. There was none (and we finally did set the doctor free by going home). In short, this is what we learned:

■The time may come when Sutent no longer works to suppress the cancer, but there is no reason to think that this is that time since all the CT scans and other medical tests continue to show no increased cancer activity;
■To help with the side effects (that seem to have increased in intensity), the doctor recommends changing the six-week cycle of four weeks on, two weeks off to two weeks on, one week off. At the end of six weeks, Cheryl will have taken the same amount of medicine—just in a way that should be easier on her body;
■One of the side effects of Sutent is heart stress, and this is showing up in Cheryl in elevated blood pressure. As a result, she was given blood pressure medicine.
■She has been accepted as a patient at MD Anderson and, assuming things continue as they are, we will return to Houston in three months for her next CT scan. (This is perfect timing as we will be back in the U.S. for a three-month home assignment from late May.) In the meantime, she will continue seeing the doctor in Japan for regular check ups;
■On the U.S. end, the doctor will consult with colleagues about the possibility of treating the tumor with surgery and/or focused radiation. He told us that this treatment is available in Japan, suggesting the possibility of it being done here (since it would be so much cheaper and because the treatment and care Cheryl’s already received in Japan has been very good);

Here’s how you can pray with us:

►For the Sutent to continue working to suppress the cancer;
►For Cheryl’s blood pressure to return to the normal range and the water on her heart to dissipate; and,
►For her energy to be restored so that the upcoming three months will be productive and ministry assignments completed before we begin home assignment.

Additional prayer requests
●On March 15, Tamagawa Seigakuin will graduate some 190 seniors in its 59th graduation ceremonies. Please pray for these girls as they venture “into the world,” that they will not forget their introduction to Jesus Christ at Tama Sei and that many will eventually give their hearts to the Lord.
●With the end of the school year in March and the beginning of a new school year in April, these are especially busy months for Bernie. Please pray that he will find the energy, strength, and inspiration for the extra load that always falls on him at this time.
●A new church year begins on April 1 at Tamagawa Church, where we will begin our second of three years in an interim pastoral assignment. Please pray for the church’s pastoral team—Bernie, Cheryl, and Fujiwara-sensei—as we make specific plans this month for the upcoming year. (This is a special challenge in that we’ll be in the States three months for home assignment.)
●Please pray for our annual spring staff meeting, March 29-31. We look forward to getting to know our new regional coordinators, Don and Caroline Armstrong, as well as to spiritual and physical renewal (and a lot of good food) at the retreat center in the mountains outside of Tokyo.