Saturday, January 21, 2012

The measure of a lifetime

Beth’s Chimerism test results came in yesterday, at 100% of the donor’s DNA, and 0% of her old marrow. There is no sign of the disease. She is not out of the woods yet, but this is what we wanted to see at this point. She is still contending with some of the difficulties of graft vs host. She still has some itchies. Other problems she wouldn’t care to have me mention. But remember, too, that it is the graft vs host effect that will continue to provide a graft vs leukemia effect – it will continue to work inside her to attack and kill any latent leukemia, bad bone marrow, etc.

I view this as a miracle, and I hope to write about it in the near future. This is a woman who had a disease for which, if you don’t go through a bone marrow transplant, the life expectancy is 12 to 24 months. Now she has a new lease on life. She can potentially live for 20 or 30 years or more. True, she will need to be continually monitored throughout her lifetime. And true, the leukemia can re-emerge at some point. But I look at this in the light of what’s happened to Denise Sproul, (R.C. Sproul Jr’s wife). I have six kids, including some younger kids, and I prayed hard that my little girls would not lose their mom. R.C. has eight kids. I just marvel at how and why God does the things that he does.

Not long after the little girl photo to the left was taken, Beth suffered a kind of triple tragedy in her life: her parents divorced, her mom came down with Multiple Sclerosis (which incapacitated her very quickly), and then she and her mom and sister were then moved to another state where they lived with grandparents who didn’t really want them and weren’t very kind about it. All of that happened within just a couple of years. It led to a hard life in which she became a runaway, was in and out of foster homes, and eventually led her to join the army. And once, as a young woman, she found security in the army years, it made sense, from her perspective, to join the army as a 40 year old woman when another national crisis occurred.

I love the little girl photograph of her on the left. Because she grew up in a broken home, we have very few photos of her as a little girl. And I look at her today, after all she’s been through, and I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that hers is a lifetime that’s been given to me. That is, even though I only met her at age 26, and I didn’t know her as a little girl, but everything she is, everything she’s suffered from that point till this, has been entrusted to me, as her husband. Over these last months, I have kept the little girl photo handy, and my prayer often took the form, “Lord, please enable me to do right by this little girl.”

God uses the things that we suffer to shape our lives. In some very real way, our sufferings are a part of us.


  1. Hi John,

    Fantastic news about Beth's recovery. Thanks for the personal story, as well.

    We continue to hold you both in prayer - which can now turn to thanksgiving.

    Blessings to you, my friend.

  2. John,
    I prayed for you and Beth this morning. I looked at Beth's Facebook pictures - wow - the pictures of her in Iraq are amazing and with Iraqi families and children. Very moving.

    That was cool that you shaved your head also to join Beth in that trial and extra burden. You are a kind husband. Way to go man!

    May the Lord give you both and your children lots of persevering grace and strength and healing in these days. Thanks for sharing all this personal stuff. Wow.


  3. Thanks Ken, thanks Constantine. The biggest fears were first, that she wouldn't make it through the procedure, and second, that she would relapse. She had some bad moments with the infections she had, but those are past. This test doesn't rule out a relapse, but shows that it is much less likely. She still has to get through graft vs host, but the dangers are much less significant than they had been. We are very grateful.

  4. Awesome! Stay strong, both of you!