October 15th, 09 – Jake 7(2)

Dear Friends,

Just an update since we have not written for a few weeks, largely because nothing new has happened. Jake has been continuing with a very intensive burst of Chemotherapy – his current ‘regimen’ is a four week unit where he takes three different Chemo drugs and has a lumber puncture at the beginning of each week to check whether bad cells have gone into his spinal fluid. He also continues a course of anti fungal, anti sickness, anti viral and vitamin B12 medications, we think throughout the three years of treatment.  The Chemo leaves him tired, but the anti sickness pills sort him out most of the time and apart from a three day adverse reaction to one of the most powerful drugs he has been feeling like playing the piano and even cooking most days. Jake’s music making provides a deeply moving and hugely healing atmosphere to the house.  He is currently playing some delightful pieces by Robert Schuman called ‘novelettes’ as well as on other days apparently going through his whole set of stacked boxes of mixed pieces, a whole book of Bach’s 24 preludes and fugues one day and a set of Chopin waltzes on another. In music but also in attitude he is so inspiring, the healing is to us and all those who happen to be in the house at the time, but we trust that there are marvelous things going on inside him at the same time. He certainly seems to have lost none of his pianistic ability, although we are worried that one of the side effects of treatment has been neuropathy in his fingertips – he feels sometimes painful pins and needles in all his fingers all the time at the moment- his consultant feels it may be the result of a lack of vitamin B12 and ordered a blood test today in the hopes of sorting it out. It is hard not to read immensely increased depth, intellect, sensitivity and maturity into his playing.

We have to take Jake up to the Royal Marsden every weekday, sometimes for only half an hour, because our local hospitals can’t deal with the complexity of his treatments.  To be honest we are happy with that arrangement even though it means 4 hours on the road every day, because we still feel so supported and ‘known’ by the staff at the Marsden. They have been marvelous throughout as we have said and we feel propelled into raising money for them by over £1200 of donations from various Royal Marsden events organized by some of you.

Complicating matters somewhat  at the moment, Jonathan’s mum, Kay, had a fall at the weekend and badly broke her wrist, requiring an operation to fit a metal plate to hold it all together again.  She obviously needs us to look after her for the eight weeks it will take to recover – you don’t realize how much you need two hands until you effectively lose the use of one. So we are quite a house full at the moment with mum and Ben at home in addition to Jake.  Kay is doing fine now and has quickly returned to full mental activeness if not physical agility – she is at a loss without her art classes, Turner Contemporary meetings, glee club, active retirement meetings, church cleaning and tea making and Age Concern volunteering! We are so grateful for Jo and Alf, mum’s sister and brother-in-law rushing down to look after her for five days so that we can continue taking Jake to hospital and not have to worry about mum. Cherry is on half term next week so things will be a little simpler.

Friends, the moral, emotional and spiritual support you have given us is so gratefully received. We continue to have hundreds of cards, fruits, jams and meals supplied by a bevy of culinary experts (including a whole roast lamb Sunday dinner for six  by vegetarian Naomi and a quiche to out quiche Nana from Esther), shopping done by Ben, offers of lifts and meals out, mystery bouquets and chocolates on the doorstep, instrumentalist friends dragging down cellos, flutes and clarinets to play with him, other friends just to be with him, and this week Robert, a Canterbury friend has persuaded a friend of his – a marathon runner – to make a sponsored race in the Amsterdam marathon in Jake’s name.  Never have we been more aware of the way friendship closes warmly in around us in times of need, gently keeping our heads above water and providing firm ground to stand on.

Love, Cherry, Jonathan and Jake

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