Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Football Game of a Different Kind

Ten years ago, on September 22, 2001, Larry and I attended a football game at Kyle Field in College Station.   It was 11 days after “9-11” and patriotism was at a high. Since Brad was a sophomore in the Corps of Cadets, we were excited to be part of the day to see, support, and encourage him and just be able to give him an extra hug.   None of our sons were home on September 11, since they were either in college or graduate school at the time.  Texas A&M and Oklahoma State were the teams competing on that particular day.  After visiting with Brad that morning, we saw the Corps line up and step off from the Quad to parade through campus.  We hurried to the stadium so we could watch as they marched in.  After entering, it definitely did not look like a typical game day at TAMU.
Brad carrying the General Moore Flag

Patriotic colors for the game
E-2 Marching through campus

Reveille even sported a patriotic mum for the game.

Waiting to march into the stadium

Marching inside the stadium

As a response to the events of “9-11”, five Texas A&M students wanted to be part of an effort to show their pride in America and support the firefighters, police, and relief workers in New York.  They were sure their fellow Aggies would want to participate as well.  So they decided that it would be great to wear red, white, and blue attire for the game, rather than the traditional maroon.  Due to the distinct layout of the stadium, they suggested that people with seats in the top 3rd deck wear red shirts, the people in the 2nd deck wear white, and the 1st deck people wear blue.  To earn money for the cause, they then designed a t-shirt for people to purchase for $5.00, with the money going to help the relief efforts in New York.  The first 3,000 shirts sold out quickly and they eventually were able to have 70,000 printed and sold by game day.  Within eleven days, the word had spread through the internet and by word of mouth.  Not only did the students participate, but also the adults and children, as well as the fans for Oklahoma State.  On this day, it was more important to support America, than to sport your own team colors.

T-shirt color for 3rd Deck

The brown in the lower section is the Corps of Cadets
The band's "USA" during halftime

What an encouragement to see students have a dream, develop a plan, and not let the limited amount of time or vast amount of details discourage them from pursuing their desire to help.  And then they offered the chance for others to participate as well.  “The Red, White, and Blue Out Game” will always hold a special place in my heart.  For Mother’s Day, that next May, the boys surprised me with a print of the Benjamin Knox drawing of the “Red, White, and Blue Out Game” where the entire stadium is pictured.

I Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

2 Corinthians 2:16-17
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Same and Different

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

On September 13, 2011, eleven months to the day and hour, I had a cell extraction in preparation for a stem cell transplant.  This event will be different in some ways.  To begin with, I am having the procedure in Houston, Texas, rather than Tijuana, Mexico.  The extraction here was from the fat cells in my stomach rather than the marrow (blood) from the tibia bone in my leg.  After the procedure here, my cells will be cultivated and grown for 4 weeks rather than infusing them immediately and then injecting more 24 hours later like in Mexico.  Two different doctors and medical teams are involved.

Dr. Andrade, Debbie, and Larry in Mexico

 Dr. Jones and Debbie in Houston

Although the cities and methods may be different, the purpose is the same – to alleviate symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis and bring healing to my body.  Knowing the procedure made a difference before, I am hopeful that this next round will be even more successful.  I so want God to be glorified through this and to even use this method to bring healing to others as well.  Both times we have needed and felt God’s blessings and provisions because you have prayed for us. What a gift of encouragement that has and continues to be.  Dr. Andrade and Dr. Jones are both believers who desire for God to use them to bring about healing.  Dr. Jones had the same procedure I am having in Houston, in South Korea, two years ago.  Even though he could have very easily come back to his medical practice as usual, his passion for healing has led him to fight battles to offer the same treatment and hope here.  This method has been successful with auto immune diseases such as Parkinson’s, arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis as well as others.  And Larry was allowed to be in the room with me for both procedures!

Below are the comparisons of the two procedures, along with the schedule of the treatment here.

Blood Work
(Wait one week for results)
Extraction of cells   
(Wait four weeks for cells to culture/expand)
Treatment #1 - Injection and infusion of 200,000,000 cells
Week later treatment #2 - 200,000,000 cells
Week later treatment #3 - 200,000,000 cells
(Wait six months for cells to mature)

And now we continue to believe, trust, pray and wait upon the Lord for healing!

                     Comparison for Stem Cell Procedures

Tijuana, Mexico
Houston, Texas
My Own
My Own
Type of Cells
Blood Stem Cells
Fat Stem Cells
Extracted from
Bone in leg
Amount extracted
Several tubes
2 teaspoons
Cell Expansion
24 hours
4 weeks
Injection and IV
Injection and IV
Procedure Time
5 days
2 month period
Number of Cells
Maturity for cells
6 months
6 months

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering and Two Less Teaspoons of Fat

This seems to be a week of remembering…with 9/11 and my previous stem cell transplant.  Eleven months to the day and hour, I am having a stem cell extraction in preparation for another stem cell transplant. 

I pulled up the scriptures and prayer from this day in Mexico.  They are what I am believing and asking for today, as well. 

Psalm 118:24 
24 This is the day the LORD has made;
      let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 115:1 
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.

Philippians 4:6-7 
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

We are claiming the truth of these passages today as we take another step of faith!

My Prayer:
“Father, you did not promise complete, physical healing today, but you did promise me your presence.  That is what I need.  May my desire for spiritual health be as real as my hope for physical health.  I know that faith and obedience please you.  May I be a delight to you today in my thoughts, words, actions, and reactions.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.”
Dr. Jones and Debbie before going to surgery room.

Fat cells are the yellow ones at the top.
The procedure began right on time.  After taking my blood pressure and temperature, it was time to begin.  The doctor allowed Larry to watch the procedure.  While he was out putting on the garb, they were ready to start.  I did not see Larry come in so I asked if I could pray for all of us before they began.  Larry was in the room and prayed for us as well.  It took a while, but they were able to remove 10cc, two teaspoons, of fat cells from my stomach.  Dr. Jones said I would be pretty sore for a few days, but that is definitely a small price to pay for the miracle we are asking God to complete.  And now it’s time to wait and pray.  The cells have been sent to a lab where they will be cultured or expanded for four weeks.

That was the size of the needle!

Completed!!!  Life giving fat cells!!!

Hector, Dr. Jones, and Brett

Larry and Debbie
Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers.  We are so grateful for your willingness to share the journey with us.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Stem Cell Transplant, Round 2

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

When we left Mexico last October, after the stem cell transplant, we knew we had the option to return for an additional treatment this year.  Over the course of the past four weeks, a doctor and two other people we know have all returned for their second transplant.  That meant my time was rapidly approaching as well.

About three weeks ago, I told Larry that I had been praying about going back to Mexico, but did not have the peace and assurance I had when we went last October.   We both knew that God had used the doctors and medical team to make a noticeable difference with my symptoms of MS.  In July, my neurologist was amazed at the progress.  I also confessed to Larry that I told God that if this was the best I would be that I was content with that unless going back was what I needed to do for His glory and to help and encourage others.  Although puzzled, we agreed to continue to pray for wisdom.

The NEXT morning in church, a friend told Larry about a doctor in Houston who went to South Korea two years ago for a stem cell transplant to treat the debilitating effects of psoriatic arthritis.  He is now able to continue his medical practice, perform surgeries, and live without pain.  Because our friends had noticed progress from my first stem cell transplant, they wanted us to know that Dr. Jones was now licensed to perform the procedure in Houston.  To say the least, we were both excited about the possibilities and timing.

I called Monday morning to make an appointment with the doctor and the receptionist “just happened” to have a time available on Wednesday.  We had an incredible visit with the doctor.  He told us about his stem cell transplant, healing, and time and meetings with Dr. Ra, in Seoul, South Korea.  In obedience to what he felt God was asking him to do, Dr. Ra had built a large top level lab in Seoul. His research led to the stem cell procedure.  They have already performed over 8,000 transplants in Seoul with amazing results.  Because of Dr. Jones’ healing, he invited Dr. Ra to Houston to train doctors to perform the transplants here.  A new Level 4 lab has been built here to cultivate the cells.  As we were leaving, with tears in his eyes, Dr. Jones said, “God has given me my life back.”

The next night, we attended an informational meeting presented by the lab technician along with Dr. Jones.  It was very educational and helpful.  We were able to visit with the lab technician for about 45 minutes after the meeting.

The neurologist, who will help with the procedure, received his training in England from some of the top MS specialists.  We will meet with him on Monday before Tuesday’s stem cell extraction.  That was another amazing answer to prayer to be able to have an appointment in such a short window of time.

Whereas I had a sense of hesitancy of returning to Mexico at this time, God has given me a sense of readiness and anticipation of pursuing the treatment here.  And He continues to work out ALL the details.  So, to officially begin the process, on Tuesday, July 30, we signed the papers and I went to have blood drawn for the preliminary tests.  The results arrived a week later and I received a call Wednesday that the fat cell extraction has been scheduled for Tuesday, September 13!  The stem cells in Mexico were drawn through blood marrow from a bone in my leg; these will be collected from fat cells in my stomach.  Next week I’ll write more about the procedure, time schedule for the next phases, and comparison of the two procedures.  I’ll try to update the blog on Tuesday, after the procedure.

We continue to be amazed and grateful for God’s timing and provision of family, friends, doctors, appointments, procedures, and confirmation during these days.

Proverbs 3:5-8
 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make your paths straight.
 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
   fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
   and nourishment to your bones.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Same Chorus, New Verse

Psalm 96:1
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Back in the “Olden Days”, we had a record player in our home which provided entertainment as we listened to and sang along with the music.  Some of the records even had scenes on them that you could see as they rotated on the platter.  (OK, I had to google to see what that part was named.) When playing a record, if it had a scratch or deep groove, the needle would stick and keep repeating the same words and music over and over again.  After the arm was gently nudged, the rest of the song could be enjoyed.

I am in the process of reading through the Psalms.  Repeatedly, the writer’s remind us to sing a “New Song” to the Lord.  When I came to Psalm 136, I was reminded that it is a history of the ways God blessed and provided for His people from the beginning of time.  Each verse states what God accomplished, followed by “His love endures forever”.  Then it lists the next event that occurred followed by “His love endures forever”.  All twenty-nine verses include the reminder of God’s everlasting love as it recounts their history.

Just like God’s people in the past, God is writing verses of His love and provision for the song of my life.  It is amazing to look back, remember, and share those events.  But I don’t want to be stuck in a rut, like the grooved record, and miss out on the new verse God wants to write for my heart song.  And the chorus will continue to be… “His love endures forever”…

Psalm 40:3
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.

Psalm 98:1
Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.