August 31st, 09 – Jake 4

To Our Dear friends and relatives

Although just a week since we last wrote it seems like a year. Not that much has happened but each day is crammed full of its own little hurdles, discomforts, distractions, institutional rituals and fears.  Jacob has been leading us in most matters. He does his best almost all the time to lighten the mood, allay our badly hidden anxieties and maintain positivity. His piano playing has gained a wonderful serenity and space together with a deep reflectiveness and insight, it’s wonderful to hear. Brahms intermezzi op 117, and Faure’s 1st and 4th Nocturnes alternate with miraculous renditions of the G major partita of Bach – in particular the gigue which he plays with a mixture of confidence and inner exploration. Try to listen to one of them and imagine.

The Chemotherapy, now in its third intensive week, is at last having an outward effect on Jacob. We say at last because his body has been strongly resisting the onslaught of such heavy concentrations by keeping his blood counts and energy high until this week.  Now he feels very tired, not sick but sometimes a bit low. His hair has begun to fall out (something they assured him would happen sooner) and he is feeling sleepy much of the time.  His blood counts are still not very low but are gradually slipping down to make him what they call ‘neutropenic’ which means that he will have no immunity at all.  His platelets are also gradually falling which means that the clotting mechanisms will soon need some help. Dreadful though these things sound these are what we were told to expect before a series of blood transfusions take his blood back up to normal levels and they test his bone marrow again (ouch) to see how much the chemotherapy has killed off the bad cells. Through all this Jake has shown us how to remain positive and active in his recovery. The poor boy has to face three years of this treatment in one way or another.

The doctors and nurses have continued to be really excellent. They explain carefully and clearly.  They know every detail of the disease and can answer, sympathetically and succinctly any questions we ask. They give him round the clock attention and any little worry they deal with immediately and kindly. A new Asian haematologist  checked in today and not only knew everything about Jake’s progress already but took time to say reassuring words and  explain the next steps – we then overheard him doing the same thing to Ted the 69 year old opposite with every bit as much care and kindness.  We are so impressed at the NHS here, but after the obvious excellence of the science and cleanliness most of the impressiveness boils down simple human goodness: smiles, clear and kindly explanations, thoughtful and understanding comments, happy demeanours and reliable efficient work styles.

Cherry and I live a strange half life. We find we have no energy or focus to do any activities one might expect – we can’t read, write, keep up with emails and phone calls, watch tv – we just eat, sleep and visit everyday.  We have a continual supply of family and Jake’s close friends on visits. We are every bit as  grateful for the many card, letter, Facebook, text,and email messages we are getting from all of you – you would be amazed at the great comfort they are. Each of you has a different and highly personal way of writing to and comforting us, each salves an otherwise untreated sore. We feel so fortunate to have such a wealth of good friends and relatives and ask you to continue as you have done, praying, thinking, lighting candles, cooking, writing, sharing insights and experience.  We’ve had lots of really lovely visits and we really hope to be home soon so please don’t worry about making the long journey here anymore, that motorway’s awful! We’d love to see you all when we get back home!

With loads of love from Cherry, Jonathan, Jacob xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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